Title Page
 List of Illustrations
 Note to pelican edition
 Table of Contents
 Map: The valley of Mexico
 Map: Central Mexico
 Half-tone plates
 List of Tables
 The historical and cultural background...
 The middle cultures in the valley...
 Teotihuacan and the classical...
 The Chichimec period and the dynastic...
 The Aztec period
 The man and the tribe
 The fine arts
 Foreign affairs and war
 Glimpses of Tenochtitlan
 The death-throes of the Aztec...
 The Aztec after their war...

Group Title: A pelican book ; A200
Title: The Aztecs of Mexico
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00023242/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Aztecs of Mexico origin, rise and fall of the Aztec nation
Series Title: A pelican book
Physical Description: 333 p., 64 p. of plates : ill., map. ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Vaillant, George Clapp, 1901-1945
Publisher: Penguin Books
Place of Publication: Harmondsworth England ;
Baltimore Md
Publication Date: 1950
Subject: Aztecs   ( lcsh )
History -- Mexico -- To 1519   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 294-318.
Statement of Responsibility: by George C. Vaillant ; with a postscript by C.A. Burland.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00023242
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001051506
oclc - 07134728
notis - AFD4757

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
    List of Illustrations
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
    Note to pelican edition
        Page 6
    Table of Contents
        Page 7
    Map: The valley of Mexico
        Page 8
    Map: Central Mexico
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Half-tone plates
        Page 11
        Page 12
    List of Tables
        Page 13
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    The historical and cultural background of Aztec civilization
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
    The middle cultures in the valley of Mexico
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
    Teotihuacan and the classical toltecs
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
    The Chichimec period and the dynastic toltecs
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
    The Aztec period
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
    The man and the tribe
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
    The fine arts
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        A 1
        A 2
        A 3
        A 4
        A 5
        A 6
        A 7
        A 8
        A 9
        A 10
        A 11
        A 12
        A 13
        A 14
        A 15
        A 16
        A 17
        A 18
        A 19
        A 20
        A 21
        A 22
        A 23
        A 24
        A 25
        A 26
        A 27
        A 28
        A 29
        A 30
        A 31
        A 32
        A 33
        A 34
        A 35
        A 36
        A 37
        A 38
        A 39
        A 40
        A 41
        A 42
        A 43
        A 44
        A 45
        A 46
        A 47
        A 48
        A 49
        A 50
        A 51
        A 52
        A 53
        A 54
        A 55
        A 56
        A 57
        A 58
        A 59
        A 60
        A 61
        A 62
        A 63
        A 64
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
    Foreign affairs and war
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
    Glimpses of Tenochtitlan
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
    The death-throes of the Aztec nation
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
    The Aztec after their war conquest
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
Full Text

The Aztecs of Mexico





Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex
U.S.A.: Penguin Books Inc., 3300 Clipper Mill Road, Baltimore zI, Md
AUSTRALIA: Penguin Books Pty Ltd, 762 Whitehorse Road,
Mitcham, Victoria

First published in the U.S.A.
by Doubleday, Doran and Co. Inc. 1944
First published in Pelican Books 1950
Reprinted 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956, x960

Made and printed in Great Britain
by Richard Clay & Company, Ltd,
Bungay, Suffolk

I. Aztec Day Signs from Codex 187
2. Aztec Numbers and Methods of Enumeration 202
3. A Ritualistic Game of 'Basketball' 231
4. Montezuma views the Magical Bird 231
5. The Spaniards land in 1519 at the site of Vera Cruz 233
6. Aztec Sorcerers offer bewitched food to Cortes and his
Staff 234
7. Cortes and his Army passing the Great Volcanoes South-
east of Mexico City 235
8. Montezuma does not know whether to flee or hide in a
Cave 236
9. Cort6s meets High Dignitaries from Tlaxcala 237
o1. The Spanish Forces reach Tenochtitlan, and Montezuma
and his Nobles greet Cortes 238
I1. Marina's value to Cortes cannot be underestimated 238
I2. A great aid to the Spanish military success was the use of
Cavalry 238
13. Cortes seizes Montezuma as a Hostage 238
14. The Citizens rise in arms against the Spanish 239
1s. Spaniards dislodging Aztecs from a Temple 240
16. Wooden Tanks were built by Cortes to protect his men 241
17. Cort6s secretly tries to reach the Mainland along a Cause-
way 242
18. A handful of the Spaniards reach the Mainland 243
19. Military Supplies being brought from the Coast 244
20. Cortes' plan to retake Tenochtitlan 245
z2. A Brigantine comes to the aid of Cortes and his Allies 246
22. The Spanish Flotilla puts to Sea 247
23. Gunboats taking part in an Offensive 248

14 Illustrations in the Text
S24. Time and again the Brigantines relieved situations like this 249
25. Pestilence was a formidable ally on the Spanish side 250
26. The heads of sacrificed victims, men and horses, displayed 250
27. Cuauhtemoc is received with all the honours of war by
Cortes and his Consort, Marina 251
28. The Story of the Conquest of Mexico in Native Characters 252-3


THIS book is a history of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico and
the civilizations which they wrought. It was a hard book to write.
It will be a hard book to read. There are two reasons for this unfor-
tunate circumstance. First, the Indians did not have the same goals
in life as we have, so that their pattern of life is different from our
own and difficult to understand. Second, Indian history has to be
Reconstructed from what we can frd, so that much of the material,
like techniques of making household implements, does not fall within
the scope of our usual historical reading. The first four chapters deal
wit such reconstruction, and the reader is warned in advance that
the going will be very difficult. These pages may be skipped if he is
not particularly'interested in such a historical background.
The remaining chapters are based on contemporary observations
made by the conquering Spaniards and by the Aztecs themselves.
They deal with people who were seen alive, their culture function-
ing. We can form an impression of what the Aztecs were like, and
this makes easier reading, since we can envisage people in terms of
what they did, not in terms of the objects which they made. Even so,
this will not be a crystal-clear process, for their customs, habits and
motives differed from ours. However, I hope that I shall be able to
show that it was a perfectly good wayof life and the result of con-
siderable experience. Our Western civilization, on the social side,
is nothing to boast of today, so we need not be scornfulaf the Aztecs.
I want here to express my Thanks to some of the many people who
helped me to write this book: to the authorities of the American
Museum of Natural History for providing me with the sinews of re-
search and the time to exercise them, to the authorities of the Mexican
Government for their consistent courtesy and co-operation in making
my work possible, to my colleagues in my own and other lands, who
by their friendship, counsel and collaboration make one proud to be
an Americanist. To my wife I owe especial thanks for her unfailing
aid and comfort during the long hours spent in the field and laboratory
and in the preparation of this book.

6 Foreword
To Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Mr A. P. Tedesco and Mrs
Mary Slavin of Doubleday, Doran I am grateful for stimulation and
counsel. To Dr Edward Weyer I am under deep obligation for per-
mission to incorporate illustrations and articles from Natural His-
tory. I wish to thank Miss D. Levett Bradley for her excellent
sheet maps of Aztec Mexico and, last, but by no means least, Miss
Frances Jay for her unflagging patience and judgment in preparing
this manuscript and smoothing the path of the reader who traverses
the ill-marked trail of this aspect of Indian history.
To Mr Clarence L. Hay I am deeply indebted for collaboration
infield and laboratory as well as for supporting much of my research,
and to Mr Willard Carrfor underwriting our last field season, which
brought this book into being.


Recent studies of carbon dating and of Mixtec histories newly interpreted in
Mexico have led to great alterations in our views of Mexican archaeological
dating. It is now considered that the Mazapan period, equated with the his-
toric Toltecs, lasted from about A.D. 550 to about 950, and that the Teoti-
huacan cultures II to IVcover a span of about A.D. IOO to 5oo. Other dates,
including those for the Lowland Maya, should be adjusted accordingly (July
























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., -T .:.-1- --

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Archaeological Sites

The Gods of the Five Directions


1. Excavations in Central Mexi-
2. Clay Figures from Graves in
Western Mexico
3. Sculptures in the 'Olmec'
4. Sculptures in 'Olmec' and
Early Maya Styles
5. Maya Architecture and Sculp-
6. Maya Architecture and Sculp-
ture, Late Period
7. Maya Painting
8. Zapotec Sculpture and Archi-
tecture, Oaxaca, Mexico
9. Zapotec Sculpture in Clay
o1. 'Totonac' Sculpture, Vera
ii. Mixteca-Puebla Art
12. Mixteca-Puebla Influence in
13. Chart Showing Nature of
Middle Culture Archaeologi-
cal Material
14-15. Lower Middle Culture
16. Middle Culture Pottery and

17. Late Lower Middle Culture
Pottery and Figurines
18. Upper Middle Culture, Ob-
jects and Architecture
19-20. Pottery and Figurines,
Upper Middle Culture
21. Chart Showing Nature of
Toltec Archaeological Ma-
22-3. Toltec Architecture
24. Toltec Art
25. Chart Showing Nature of
Chichimec Archaeological
26. Pottery and Architecture,
Chichimec Period
27. Pottery, Chichimec Period
28. Pottery and Architecture,
Chichimec Period
29. Chart Showing Nature of
Aztec Archaeological Ma-
30. Trade Pottery, Aztec Period
31. Ceremonial Vase
32. Aztec Pottery
33. Procession of Notables Doing
Honour to Montezuma

Half-tone Plates

34-5. Aztec Society and Costume
from the Codex Florentino
36. Aztec Women
37. The Aztecs' Mexico
38. Aztec Economics as seen in
the Codex Florentino
39. Social Obligations, Rewards
and Punishments
40. Eagle Knight, National Mu-
41-4. Aztec Architecture

45. Aztec Featherwork
46-7. Aztec Goldwork
48. Aztec Mosaic Work
49. Aztec Art
50. Aztec Architecture
51-6. Aztec Art
57-60. Aztec Religion
61. Aztec Ritual
62. Aztec Records
63-4. Aztec Writing

x. Principal Culture Sequences in Middle, North and South
America 44
2. Summary of History of Lower Middle Cultures 63
3. Summary of History of Upper Middle Cultures 64
4. Sequence of Tribes in the Valley of Mexico, according to
various authorities 78
5. Summary of Toltec History 79
6. Summary of Chichimec and Dynastic Toltec History 95
7. Migrant Tribes, according to various authorities 102
( Summary of Aztec History before the Rise of Tenochtitlan 1o4
(C Summary of Aztec History after the Rise of Tenochtitlan oS5
io. Principal Members of the Aztec Pantheon, Their Character
and Spheres of Worship 179
zi. Day Names and Numbers of the Aztec Month 184
12. Tonalpohualli: Sequence of Day Names, Numbers and
Weeks x85
13. Day Gods of Tonalpohualli 188
14. Gods of Tonalpohualli Weeks 188
* IS. Gods of the Day Hours and their Associated Birds 189
16. Gods of the Night Hours and their Attributes in Divination 190
17. The Solar Year, the Eighteen Months, and Ceremonies 192

THE writer acknowledges his deep obligation to the American
Museum of Natural History for allowing him to use the blocks illus-
trating articles in the Museum magazine, Natural History, and other
publication series of this institution. In some cases plates in other pub-
lications were copied, following general scientific procedure. The list
below designates the source of the illustrations taken from such pub-
lished material and later used in the magazine or guide-leaflet series.
Where the photograph was made directly from a Museum original
for the journal the term Natural History is used. Unless otherwise
designated the originals are all in the Middle American collection of
the American Museum. The writer, therefore, wishes to express his
thanks to those scholars whose illustrations are copied here.
I. Natural History.
2. Natural History.
3. Natural History.
4. Natural History. Top: model in Peabody Museum, Cambridge,
Mass. Middle: original photograph by Sylvanus G. Morley. Bot-
tom: photograph by Lilo Hess.
5. Natural History.
6. Top, left: after Maudslay, Biologia Centrali Americana, 1889-1902;
right: Natural History; original in Museo Nacional, Mexico. Bot-
tom: after Totten, Maya Architecture, 1926; after Catherwood,
Views, 1844.
7. Top: after Gordon and Mason, Maya Pottery, 1925-28; original
in British Museum. Bottom: after Morris, Chariot and Morris,
Temple of the Warriors, 1931; original fresco in Temple of the
Warriors, Chichen Itza. Both Natural History.
8. Top: Wide World Photograph. Middle: after Batres, Monte Al-
ban, 1912. Bottom: Musde de l'Homme, Paris.
9. Top, left and right: Natural History. Bottom: photograph by
Miguel Covarrubias; original in Oaxaca Museum.

18 Acknowledgements
o1. Natural History.
ii. Top, left: A. Caso, Museo Nacional, Mexico; right: after Joyce,
Maya and Mexican Art, 1927; original Codex in British Museum.
Bottom: after Charnay and Viollet-le-Duc, Cites et Ruines Ameri-
caines, 1862-63. Museo Nacional, Mexico.
12. Top: after Morris, Chariot and Morris, Chichen Itza, 1931. Mid-
dle: Natural History; original in Merida Museum. Bottom: Museo
Nacional; photograph by Department of Historical Monuments,
13. Natural History.
14. Natural History.
15. Top: Natural History. Bottom: Archaeological Papers, American
Museum of Natural History.
16. Natural History.
17. Natural History.
18. Top: Natural History. Bottom: Natural History; photograph by
La Rochester, Mexico.
19. Natural History.
zo. Natural History.
21. Natural History.
22. Top: after Gamio, Teotihuacan, 1922. Bottom: Natural History;
photograph by Fairchild Aerial Surveys de Mexico, S. A.
23. After Lehmann, Aus den Pyramidenstidten, 1933. Natural History.
24. Top: Natural History. Bottom: after Gamio, Teotihuacan, 1922.
25. Scientific Monthly.
26. Top: Natural History. Middle: Museo Nacional, Mexico. Bottom:
Scientific Monthly.
27. Top: after Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico, 1902. Middle and Bot-
tom: Natural History.
28. Top: Natural History. Bottom: Natural History, photograph by
La Rochester, Mexico.
29. Natural History.
30. Natural History.
31. Natural History.
32. Top: Natural History. Bottom three rows: Museo Nacional,
33. After Keith Henderson, in Prescott, Conquest of Mexico, 1922.

Acknowledgements 19
34-35. After Codex Florentino, 1905. Natural History.
36. After Keith Henderson, in Prescott, Conquest of Mexico, 1922.
37. Top: Natural History; drawing by Ignacio Marquina. Bottom:
Natural History; photograph by Ewing Galloway. Aerofilms
38-39. After Codex Florentino, 1905. Natural History.
40. Museo Nacional, Mexico. Museum of Moder Art photograph
by Sunami.
41. Top: after Codex Mendoza, 1738. Bottom, left: after Holmes,
Archaeological Studies, 1895-97; right: after Codex Florentino,
i9o5. All Natural History.
42. Top: after Aubin, Peinture Didactique, 1885. Bottom: after Codex
Florentino, 190o. All Natural History.
43. Natural History.
44. Natural History.
45. Top: after Heger, Federschmuck, 1908. Bottom: Natural History.
46. Top row: Natural History. Middle, left: Musco Nacional, Mexico,
original in Oaxaca Museum; right: Natural History; original in
Museo Nacional, Mexico. Bottom: after Codex Florentino, 1905,
Natural History.
47. Museo Nacional, Mexico; original of upper left in Oaxaca Mu-
seum; bottom, Museo Nacional, Mexico.
48. After Saville, Mosaic Art, 1922; left: original in Prehistoric and
Ethnographic Museum in Rome; right: original in British Mu-
49. Natural History.
50. Natural History.
51. Top: after Dupaix, Antiquitis Mexicaines, 1834. Bottom: photo-
graph from Ewing Galloway. Aerofilms Library.
52. Top: after Pefiafiel, Monumentos, 1890. Bottom: Natural History.
Both originals in Museo Nacional, Mexico.
53. Top: Museo Nacional, Mexico. Bottom: Museo Nacional,
Mexico; photograph by Museum of Modem Art.
54. Top: Natural History. Bottom: original in Museo Nacional,
55. Top, left: Natural History. Bottom, left and right: originals in
Museo Nacional, Mexico.

20 Acknowledgements
56. Natural History. Top: original in Museo Nacional, Mexico.
57. Top, left: Natural History, after Caso, Tizatlan, 1927; right: Museo
National, Mexico; original ornament in the Oaxaca Museum.
Bottom: Natural History, after Codex Florentino, 1905.
58. Top: Natural History; after Gamio, Teotihuacan, 1922. Middle:
after Humboldt, Vues, 1814. Bottom: after Codex' Florentino,
59. Natural History; after Spinden, Ancient Civilizations, 1928.
60. Natural History; after Codex Florentino, 1905. Top: British
60. Natural History; after Codex Florentino, 1905. Bottom, left: Brit-
ish Museum.
61. Natural History; after Codex Florentino, 1905.
62. Natural History.
63-4. Natural History; after Spinden, Ancient Civilizations, 1928.




One of the strangest feelings left to
us by prehistory is the sensation of
omen. It will always exist. It is like
an eternal proof of the non sequitur
of the universe. The first man must
have seen omens everywhere,
he must have shuddered
at each step.


A somewhat speculative summary of the social and economic factors which
directed the rise of Indian civilization
THE history of the Americas records the colonization and
settlement of a great continent. We take a just pride in our
European ancestors, who, from the Vikings down to the most
recent political exiles, set forth to find a new life in the chang-
ing conditions of a new land. Our histories and traditions des-
cribe the evolution of these colonies into the present group of
American republics, and it is a remarkable episode in the story
of mankind. Yet the European settlement of the Americas, for
all its modem political significance, isjust a late phase of the
history of man on the American continent. The Asiatic colo-
nization of the New World, which preceded the European in-
filtration by many centuries, has its own proud place in the
annals of Continental America.
This immigration roAsia-produced the American Indian.
Without his preliminary development of the resources of the
continent it is dubious whether the European occupation
would have succeeded as it did. The great Indian civilizations
of the Aztecs and the Incas challenged the European imagina-
tion and opened a rich life for their military conquerors. The
humble farming skill of the tribesmen of North America's
eastern seaboard sustained religious exiles until they could live
off the land and create their own type of commonwealth. The
Indian and his culture were soon ploughed under, but they en-
riched a soil which otherwise would never have produced the
lavish harvest of Pan-American civilization.
The most violent clash between the Indians and the Euro-

24 Aztecs of Mexico
peans took place in the Valley of Mexico during the early
summer of 1520, when Cort6s and his Spaniards achieved the
Conquest of Mexico and overthrew the Aztec civilization,
the most advanced Indian culture at that time. Cortes' success
was the loadstone which drew to the Americas the iron might
of Europe. Stone could not withstand steel, and the days of the
Indian were numbered. The history of the Aztecs and their fore-
bears is a synopsis of the rise of Indian civilization and its doom.
The Aztecs were a numerous group of independent Indian
tribes who occupied a restricted section of central Mexico.
Their history and social customs are better known than
their neighbours' because their conquest had such a far-
reaching significance for the European world. Spanish
observers of military, priestly and civil status wrote careful ac-
counts of the Aztec life and history, and Indian authors a
generation later augmented these records, drawing on the tri-
bal lore still only thinly veneered by Christianity. A few picto-
graphic records, either prepared before the Conquest or cop-
Sied afterwards, are precious additions to the Aztec annals. How-
ever, our chief data on Indian history come from archaeology,
That branch research whivarecoverssocalThistory through
the study of the surviving remains of human handiwork in
ages past.
Most of the American Indian tribes had not developed writ-
Sing, so that archaeology istlie one available medium for recon-
structing their past, and the Aztec records reveal only a few cen-
turies in the life of a single tribe. To sketch the broad back-
ground of Aztec culture before we turn our attention to the
people themselves, we should realize that the earth must be
our archive, the shovel our reading-glass, and that Nature,
eternally destroying to create anew, has scattered our mater-
ials over mountain, plain and forest, from Greenland to Tierra
del Fuego. Aztec history, like that of.the American republics,
begins with the discovery ofth o ent. (See Plate i.)
Long before the Aztecs existed, the ice-sheets began to re-

The Historical and Cultural Background 25
treat northwards, as the last glacial era was ending. Those ani-
mals accustomed to cool climates gradually moved north, and
small nomadic bands of hunters followed the game on which
their lives depended. Some of these groups moved up through
Siberia and reached the shores of the Bering Strait. With so
much water held in suspension by the ice-sheet, the sea level
was probably lower than now, so that the islands were larger
and the extent of water between them less. In winter the sea
was doubtless choked with ice, and, crossing over this ice, hun-
ters and hunted could reach Alaska. Thus man discovered
America and made his first settlements there (I).1
Other hunters may have constructed rafts and boats andpas-
sed from island to island until their ceaseless search for game
led them to the mainland. The process must have been slow
and the migrating units small. We can reconstruct conditions
from what we know of modern hunting tribes, who, as social
fossils, still pursue a precarious existence in the old, old way.
The primitive hunting group moved on foot and had no efec-
tive beasts of burden. Therefore they carried little in the way
of food or equipment. Their progress was no father than that
of the oldest-ran or woman, or youngest walking child. Food
had to be secured even on the march, and hunting was a slow
and arduous process. Such conditions necessarily kept the
group unitssmall, for a large cluster of people, when on the
march, besides requiring food in quantity, must also scare
away the very game on which its nourishment depends (2).
This nomadic hunting life had its effect on language and
physical type. The tendency for hunting groups to split into
smallerunits whenever their numbers threatened the balance
between consumption- d available food supply encouraged
the establishment of isolated bands. This loss of contact with
other groups intensified mannerisms of speech and thought, so
that profound differences dialect resulted after several gen-
erations. Inbreeding also followed, and strains of physical type
I. See Notes, beginning on p. 279.

(2 Aztecs of Mexico
became established. Such conditions, already existent in the
Asiatic life and continued under American conditions, prob-
ably account both for the linguistic diversity among the In-
dian tribes and also for their great physical variation within a
more or less homogeneous frame of dark eyes, straight or
way black hair ang ello h skin colour (3).
When this infiltration took place, or how long it continued,
has yet to be expressed in exact dates. No examples of Old
World palaeolithic industry have been uncovered in the Ameri-
cas, but excavations on the campus of the University of Alaska
have turned up tools-ike those found in neolithic stations on
the GobiDesert.-Otherstone implements, defined by archae-
ologists as Folsom culture, occur in association with the remains
of extinct bison at sites in Colorado and New Mexico. Far
to the south, in a cave on the southern tip of the Argentine, the
dung of an extinct sloth is mixed with the tools and refuse of
men who hunted and ate an extinct type of American horse.
Sloth ding alsrseals in the remains of Nevada hunters. These
human vestiges may not have the great antiquity of geologic
man in Europe, nor may the fact of extinct species have the
same implication of age that obtains elsewhere, but man may
well have come to America between ten and twenty thousand
yearsago (4).
Hunting techniques have thus been established as an early
form of Indian life in America. Some of the first hunters fished
with net and line and gathered shell-fish as their chief nourish-
ment. Deep accumulations of discarded shells are found along
the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific and along some of the
great inland rivers of North America. In one such heap in
Tennessee the earliest layer disclosed bone implements, and no
stone tools appeared until very much later. How old these
heaps are we cannot guess, and we have no way of dating them
by geology or palaeontology. Yet man, from his earliest be-
ginnings, must have used these rich and relatively stable sources
of food (5).

The Historical and Cultural Background 27
Another primitive livelihood is disclosed along the shores of
dried-up lakes in California and Texas. Mortars and grinding
stones found here indicate that the early people ground nuts
and seeds into flour, while a lack of well-made stone points
suggests that they found the gathering of vegetable foods a
more reliable way to fill their larders than the hunting of
game. These desert cultures are highly important, since they
provide early evidence of an economy which led eventually to
the development of agriculture (6).
These three early ways of life hunting, fishing and gather-
ig were often combined in whole or in part. There is no >r
hunting group inhe 1mcricaswhich does not take advantage
of vegetable products to some extent, and in North America
the properties of four hundred species were known and uti-
lized. Some tribes found their hunting economy so satisfactory
that they never abandoned it. Other peoples, like the Eskimos,
were so situated geographically that they had to hunt or starve.
The Plains tribes, when they acquired the domesticated horse
from the Spanish colonies, turned from a successful if drab
farming life to a highly dramatic existence, living off the wan-
dering buffalo herds and exalting masculine virtues in war and
the chase. Fishing groups, like the tribes of the North-west
Coast, were able to live in sedentary villages and create an
elaborate social and material culture on the rich abundance
yielded by forest, stream and ocean. In California one of the
densest populations in the Americas maintained itself by gath-
ering wild nuts and fruits, supplementing this diet with shell-
fish and game. Yet in spite of these successful primitive techni-
ques the Indian would haveneverata d really high culture
without the domestication of plants (7).
In the New World therere were t centres of intense gri-
cultural development, Middle-America and the Andean re-
gion, whichlikewise represent the peaks of Indian social and
material culture. There is considerable discussion among bot-
anists as to which area first had domesticated plants, but the

28 Aztecs of Mexico
problem is not yet resolved. Perhaps the answer to this ques-
tion may have a botanical rather than a social significance, since
there are several other areas where plants not cultivated in
Mexico and Peru are agricultural staples. The presence, early
in the history of America, of peoples who lived largely by
gathering must have led almost inevitably to the independent
development of several different types of agriculture, based on
the food plants common to particular regions (8).
The great staple of Brazil, for example, wa manioc or as-
.sa ya-Before the introduction of corn in eastern North Ameri-
ca, sunflowers, the giant ragweed and other plants of prairie
and savannah were cultivated for their seeds. The highlands of
Peru yielded the white potato, but at the time of the Conquest
the great basic American foods, corn and beans, were diffused
over most of agricultural-America. Whether they were first
domesticated in Peru odrMiddle America is a point still argu-
able; each may have had its own separate point of primary cul-
tivation.iweer, the great pinciple to bear in mind is that
no plant cultivatecdby the American Indians was known to
Asia, Europe or AIiTrioothe white settlement of Ameri-
ca. The introductiorn-rf-these-pants more than doubled the
available food supply of the older continents.
The development of agriculture accomplished, in America
as elsewhere, the liberation of man from the constant search for
food. A permanent food supply which could be enlarged by
bringing fresh land under cultivation allowed the tribal popu-
lation to grow. The precarious equilibrium maintained by
Nature between population and food supply became more
stable, and man had leisure to invent techniques and to develop
rules for societal behaviour. It became possible to support ag-
gregations of people large enough for the individual to special-
ize according to his skill and for the community to carry out
public projects like irrigation systems and temples.
The successful growth of agriculture was not paralleled in
the raising of animals. True, the dog, which may well have

The Historical and Cultural Background 29
come in with the immigrants from Asia, was almost univer-
sally domesticated. In the north it was a beast of burden; in
Mexico an article of diet. The Mexican and Pueblo tribes
tamed the turkey. The Peruvians ate guinea-pigs and raised
llamas and alpacas for wool and transport; bees were kept for
honey in Middle America and north-west Brazil; some south-
ern Mexican tribes raised cochineal for dye. But the native
horse, which might have proved as useful here as in the Old
World, became extinct early in America, the cow and sheep
were unknown, and the caribou and bison, which, if domesti-
cated, might have taken their place, had their chief range in
regions occupied by primitive groups who were content
merely to hunt them (9).
This lack of suitable domestic animals prevented man's mi-
gration on an extensive scale, comparable to that of the great
hordes from Asia which beat against the walls of Rome. At
first the nomadic groups in the Americas were too small to
threaten seriously the sedentary groups, and the question of
population pressure, so often an indirect cause of war in the
Old World, was virtually non-existent in Indian America. War
techniques in conseu~ece were little developed in the Indian
cultures, and the killing and rapine which took place during the
white colonization did not have their origin in the usual Indian
political attitudes.
The invention of agriculture accentuated rather than changed
the basic structure of Indian social organization. Those groups
which gradually shifted their economic reliance from hunting
to farming were in thinly populated country. As their popula-
tion increased they could enlarge their fields without infringing
on the rights of previous inhabitants. A growing population
scared away game, forcing neighboring hunting groups to
withdraw to regions where wild life was more plentiful. If the
available arable land became insufficient for the community a
number of people drifted away to found a new settlement.
According to the environment, be it forested or semi-arid

30 Aztecs of Mexico
and consequently open, there tend to be two types of settle-
ment. In dry, open country the minerals which plan ned
remain near the surface, so that fields can be farm over and
over again. The people, therefore, can maintain a permanent
village. Forest country, on the other hand, presents a serious
problem to Stone Age people. To clear ground for planting,
trees must be girdled and, after theydie, burned. The soil there-
ore rapidly becomes exhausted and incapable of supporting
. crops. The Indians met this situation in two main ways: by
moving the entire village, or by allowing each family group
sufficient land-so-that-rop rotation would permit exhausted
fields to recover by lying fallow. This last method tended to
decentralize the population except in very small com-
munities (Io).
The social implications of these two methods of life are
highly important for reconstructing the genesis of American
Indian culture. The food-plants used by the higher civiliza-
tions in the Americas seem largely derived from highland,
open-country species, emanating from the kind of region per-
mitting the maintenance of a permanent village. In a com-
munity where the village street was a forum, technical school
and social centre, interests were pooled and techniques im-
proved by emulation and inherited experience. The oppor-
tunity to store accumulated equipment, as opposed to the
bare essential minimum of portable implements used by no-
mads, ledtospecialization in tools and techniques. The de-
corative arts became fixed according to style, since custom
channels shapes and forms into directions approved by com-
munal practice. Enterprises involving the man-power of the
whole village could be undertaken with a resultant benefit to
the whole community. The long stretches of relative leisure
when crops did not need care afforded time for technical ex-
periment and intellectual speculation.
The complete series of steps by which an early farming
group converted itself into a high civilization has not been re-

The Historical and Cultural Background 31
covered in any one area. However, North America, which
preserved so many tribes at various stages in the development
of Indian civilization, yields, in the case of the history of Ana-
sazi or northern Pueblo culture, an example of such an evolu-
tionary process (11).
At the bottom of the scale are found the remains of people
(calledhe Basket-Makers by the archaeologists) who lived by
hunting, gathering and the cultivation of corn. They occu-
pied shallow, dry caves in small units of twenty or thirty in-
dividuals. They were skilful weavers of fibres of apocynum,
fashioning baskets, bags and sandals. They had no pottery, but
constructed rude images of sun-dried clay and modelled trays
and lined baskets with this material. They did not use the bow,
but propelled long darts with the throwing-board or atl-atl.
Their equipment in the way of nets, tools of stone, bone and
wood, was relatively elaborate. In their later phases they
learned how to make a hard, flinty pottery in simple forms, de-
corated with designs derived from their weaving.
About the yeaF-aLjo00oa new people drifted into the
South-west and changed the direction of the local economy.
New varieties of corn enriched the larder, and the cultivation
of beans supplied the protein content in a diet impoverished
by lack of game. Cotton tended to supplant apocynum for
weaving clothing, while the bow superseded the atl-atl for
hunting. The underground house gave place to clusters of
joined rectangular rooms, although the older form was re-
tained for a men's clubhouse and ceremonial chamber. Pot-
tery improved greatly in shape and design. There is every evi-
dence of a considerable increase in population.
By the eleventh century the number of settlements de-
creased, but the towns became much larger. The Anasazi con-
structed great communal apartment houses of two, three and
even four stories not only in the open, but also in shallow
caves high in the canyon wall. Their arts and crafts changed in
style, but not in character, and the manner of life developed

32 Aztecs of Mexico
then has lasted to the present day, despite the infiltration of
nomadic groups like the Apaches and Navajos and the intru-
sion of white conquerors from Spain and the United States.
In Middle America and the Andean region the earliest dis-
covered cultures beerf where-thu ebloetoff. Our investiga-
tions have not yet brought to light the early hunting and se-
dentary aspects of human history in this area. The cultural
level which the Pueblo attained in the eleventh century is re-
presented in strata assignable to the centuries immediately pre-
ceding and succeeding the birth of Christ. This base discloses
people living in permanent villages, supporting themselves by
the cultivation of corn, beans and other vegetables. They
raised cotton and wove it for clothing. They made pottery for
the storage and service of food. They developed techniques
for the manufacture of tools of stone, bone and wood, as well
as ornaments for themselves and designs for their utensils.
Zhey achieved a tribal government and olvea
which entred aroundthMaural forces t ctol
growth of plants (iz).
The term 'Middle Culture' best expresses this level of de-
velopment, which is midway between the meagre resources of
a hunting group and the splendour of a ceremonial civiliza-
tion?'Dr Spinden and Mr Means defined this stage by the
broad term 'archaic', and the writer coined the clumsy phrase
'Early Culture' to describe this phase in Central Mexico.
Neither term allows for the naming of older or more primitive
cultures which will eventually be discovered. Consequently
the phrase 'Middle Culture' appraises more justly than the
other terms a cultural situation and emphasizes less strongly the
element of historical position.
In Middle America and the Andes man and his works pro-
gressed and prospered from a]Middl Calt" Itre-baseut-in
somewhat different direction s.helAndea peoples, to gener-
alize broadly, concentrated on the nlteprial tclrnique of sup-
porting life; the Middle American on spiritual or, more ac-

The Historical and Cultural Background 33
curately, supernatural methods. In the Andes, especially in the-
coastal valleys of Peru, enormous cities were built and vast irri-
gation systems watered the fields.Weaving was developed to a
point unequalled by man in the whole course of human his-
tory, and pottery in excellence of construction and richness of
design had no peer in the Americas. This civilization culmin-
ated in the Inca Empire, the original benevolent, monolithic
state, uniquein American annals as the only governmental
system whichcombined territorial expansion with the amal-
gamation of conquered peoples into a social whole (13).
The Middle Americans, onr-thecontrary, lived in indepen-.
dent tribal or civic groups and created a religious art and archi- -
tecture without rival in the Americas (14). The ceremonial as- l
pect of life dominated the civil structure, and the remains of
temples, not cities, gauge the splendour of the past. The cause
or causes of this difference are shrouded in the past, but the
more primitive North American scene suggests that here again
agricultural conditions played a part (15).
The Indians of the arid South-west, as we have seen, built
permanent towns, but did not devise an imposing ceremonial
architecture. In the south-eastern United States the more so-
phisticated tribes reared great earthen platforms to support
their temples and the houses of their chiefs, and to serve as
centres at which the community membership might congre-
gate at specified times. The demands of a forest agriculture did
not permit the occupancy of permanent towns like those of
the Pueblo country, since the south-eastern tribes had to move
their villages whenever the soil of their farm clearings was ex-
hausted. A good part of the year saw the able-bodied men and
women virtually aardon the villages to hunt and gather wild
food. But theyH-tiT or tribal rites at the ceremonial cen-
tres, and thus strengthened the bonds of social solidarity, loos-
ened and frayed by the conditions of their ecology. The cere-
monial centre occurs late in the history of the South-east and
bears the-earmarks of a trait imported from Mexico. Yet it

34 Aztecs of Mexico
answered-a-very4efinite need for maintaining social unity in
the growing population of a forest area.
Therefore it seems reasonable to suppose that some such
ideas germinated centuries before in the lowland forests of
Middle America, since the elaboration of this social and cere-
monial requirement.became a dominant theme in Middle
American civilization. There is nothing strange in this prac-
tice, which characterizes the earlier culture patterns in the de-
velopment of western Europe and the colonial United States.
The great cathedrals of the Middle Ages loomed massively out
of a countryside wherein miserable villages, set in tiny clear-
ings, made a violent contrast between the poverty of man's
individual material existence and the rich glory of his cor-
porate spiritual life. In New England communities still survive
where the church, the store and the town hall are the social
centre for people scattered in isolated farms over the forested
hills. The master artists who covered the miles of sculptured
temple walls in Cambodia lived in flimsy towns now totally
consumed by the jungle. Both the act and the fact of cere-
monial building coalesce into a t jngiblc ex prc ion the relation-
ships of man to society and of society-to-the universe; so it is
not surprising thar~ifferent tribes hav&e-dependently adopted
this practice which,-in the modern Umite States, we follow in
structures like libraries, hospitals, colleges and governmental
buildings, used primarily for the public benefit.
This assumption carries further weight when we examine
the broad spread of Middle American cultural history. No evi-
dence of truly primitive communities has been discovered as
yet. The earliest materials represent a mid-point between the
rude life of hunters and the complex society in developed
American Indian civilization. From Salvador to Zacatecas,
from the high mountain valleys to the forested coast, we find
evidence of tribal cultures which had reached a competent
plane of technical development and, implicitly, social adjust-
ment as well. The surviving remains consist of ably-made im-

The Historical and Cultural Background 35
plements of pottery, stone and bone. Hand-made clay figures
show that the religions in vogue required simulacra of the
gods as a part of worship. The flat grinding-stones and mullers,
still used in Mexico and called metates' and manos, prove that
the people relied on corn as their principal food. The regional
differences in form and decoration of the figures, pottery and
other utensils indicate that several different tribes remained at
this Middle Culture stage for several centuries, to judge from
the deep layers of refuse in the Valley of Mexico (16).
Between the Middle Cultures and the elaborate ceremonial
civilizations which succeeded them there are transitions in the
design and form of implements, a sure sign that the authors of
the various Middle Cultures were the creators of the later civi-
lization. Those transitions appear to be gradual and not abrupt,
so that the impression is strengthened of cultural development
in situ. The existing evidence gives no valid reason for assum-
ing any source for the high civilization of Middle America
except the inventiveness of the local population (17).
Monuments of these highly developed tribes are found be-
tween a south-eastern limit in western Honduras and Salvador,
and a north-western boundary in the state of Zacatecas in
Mexico. On the basis of their art styles and the reports of the
Spaniards we can identify a number of distinctive tribal cul-
tures. In the lowlands of Guatemala the Mayas had their im-
posing ceremonial centres, which in the mountain regions
were much less elaborate. Inthe state of Oaxaca2inMexico the
Zapotecs were the authors of a rich civilization. The coastal re-
gion of Vera Cruz yields evidence of several high civilizations
which archaeological research is just beginning to distinguish.
Most notable among these are the works attributed to the O1-
mecs and the Totonacs. On the northern border the Toltecs
and the Aztecs created the great civilizations of Central Mexi-
co. North and west of them tribal cultures of lesser develop-
ment represented in some cases persistence and survivals from
i. Me-tah'-tays. 2. Wah-hah'-cah.

36 Aztecs of Mexico
the Middle Culture plane, in others distorted reflections of the
more elaborate civilizations (18).
Just as in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century western Europe,
where distinctive national and regional art styles were de-
veloped under the aegis of the Roman Church, so in Middle
America there was sharp stylistic differentiation in the arts and
crafts of tribes whose broad culture pattern w-s the same. This
civilization was grafted to a Middcle Culture base, and com-
prised such elements of advanced culture as a polytheism based
on Nature-worship, the representation of various divinities
through drawing and sculpture, the erection of temples on
platforms to honour these gods, a system of writing for religi-
ous and tribal records, a calendar and an astronomy designed
primarily for ritualistic purposes. The Middle Americans prob-
ably did not develop these practices simultaneously, but evolved
and elaborated first one, then another, trait.
Other tribal units gradually absorbed and adapted these cus-
toms to suit their local needs. To maintain a civilization along
these lines a tribe had to be numerous, stable and successfully
adjusted economically. Men had to be freed to a very consider-
able extent from the -re struggle for existence to perform
and direct the elaborate ituat build the ceremonial struc-
tures and to devebp-lhe arts and crafts which gave the religion
its outward expression.
The IMayas atem4alaz-Yucatan, south-eastern Mexico
and western Honduras attained the greatest eminence in the
elaboration of this cultTheir temples and priestly dwellings
were built of masonry and roofed by means of the corbel or
false arch. The sculpture in stone and plaster adorning these
buildings has the elaborate sophistication of a matured art.
Their carefully pondered delineation of their gods and god-
desses reflects theological maturity. Their writing is set forth
in conventionalized hieroglyphs, of which olythe calendric
texts can be de ~i It is this calendar which particularly
excites the admiration of our Western civilization, for it is

The Historical and Cultural Background 37
based on a highly evolved mathematical and astronomical 1
system (19). (See Plates 4-7.)
The Maya calendar should be a great aid in reconstructing
history, but opinions differ as to how it should be correlated
with Christian dates. There are several calculations designed to
reconcile the Maya with the Christian calendar, but each corre-
lation involves a difference of some two hundred and sixty
years in the expression of Maya dates in Christian terms. This
lack of agreement has led to quite divergent interpretations of
Maya history, although the main trends are well estab-
lished (20).
The complexity and elaboration of the Maya civilization,
barely touched on here, have challenged the imagination of
explorers and students. Extravagant theories have been woven
by seers and visionaries as to the origin of the Mayas in lost
continents like Atlantis or Mu. Soberer judges see them as
American in origin and credit them with the invention and
spread of Middle American culture. However, in view of the
unanswered correlation question it would seem more just to
consider the Mayas-as-arrying to a higher degree, without im-
plication of greater antiquity, a civilization shared by their {-
neighbours (21).
The excavation and study of remains in Middle American
sites discloses a symmetrical cultural development which be-
gan at Middle Culture plane and passed through a long period
of highly stylized local development, only to be cut short by a
sudden decline and the intrusion of cult practices from Central
Mexico (Table I, p. 44-5). In the Maya area even the Middle
Culture plane is not uniform at-the several sites where it is re-
presented. Pottery and- igri esiffer so strongly in style and
ware as to suggest their manufacture by unrelated tribes.
These Middle ture forms gradually became more so-
phisticated as the people began to build temples, erect stone
time-markers and develop a mature religious art. The differ-
ences in style observable at the Middle Culture plane became

38 Aztecs of Mexico
strongly accentuated in this civilized period. Yet pottery ves-
sels made at one site have been found as trade objects in an-
other, so that in the broad sense we know that the local cul-
tures were contemporary. A vast amount of building and, in
places, deep refuse-beds suggest that a long span of time elapsed
during this period. Whenever this civilized epoch crystallized,
be it the years preceding the Christian Era, the early centuries
afterwards, or the fifth century A.D., according to the corre-
lation one adopts for the Maya calendar, we do know from
traditional sources that about the twelfth century A.D. tribes of
Mexican stock moved into the Maya country, where they
founded various local dynasties. This movement is reflected in
the archaeological remains which show influences from the
Mixtecal-Puebla culture complex and reveal a degeneration
of the local tribal civilization (22).
The Maya region, J rito-the twelfth-century infiltration
from Mexico, contained oples spring different dialects
ind having distinctive regional styles in their material culture.
Their religiion and calcnJar, however, were essentially the
.aame throughout the arKie-Of rthe mainland of Mexico we find
that the regional populations had not only distinctive arts, but
also different theological conceptions. Yet these Mexican civi-
lizations,like thatof the Maya, had their roots in the Middle cul-
tures and succumbed at the end to Mixteca-Puebla influences.
The recent discoveries in southern Vera Cruz and Tabasco
Suggest a tantalizing explanation for the origin of Middle
American civilization. At the sites of Tres Zapotes and La
SVenta great ceremonial centres occur, producing huge stone
" heads and religious and calendric formulas inscribed on stone
door-jambs and stelae. Little clay figures made by hand
follow the aesthetic tenets of Middle Culture art, but some
types reflect the more matured modelling of the stone sculp-
ture. The religious art portrays strange beings whose faces are
either swollen and infantile or else grotesquely reproduce the
i. Mish-te'ca.

The Historical and Cultural Background 39
visages of tiger-like monsters. This art has been called Olmec,
after a gifted and civilized people whonrthe traditions say
lived in the region, but whose hlidiworro has never been a
securely identified (23). (See Plates 3-4.)
The sculpture has relationships with other tribal arts that
suggest great antiquity. The tiger-like mask has close analogies
with the plaster decorations on the oldest temple at the Maya
site of Uaxactun,1 a building which exhibits none of the char-
acteristic features of Maya art. Masks and infantile-aces were
also present in the earliest occupationTof onte Alban, the
great ceremonial site of the Zapot cs-f axaca. The 'baby
face' was repeated on figurines from Upper Middle Culture
sites in the Valley of Mexico, and an associated type of figurine
also marked the close of the Lower Middle Period in that area.
(See Plates 3, 8.)
The associations between 'Olmec' art and early culture
levels in the Maya area, Oaxaca and the Valley of Mexico
would suggest tlat he first steps towards ceremonial civiliza-
tion were taken in southemrn)era Cruz and Tabasco, except
for one very perplexing feature: the writing andncalendar sys-
tem were those used by the Mayas, but the dates expressed
seem tobe earlier than those they inscribed on their own monu-
ments. Further excavations will undoubtedly resolve this prob-
lem, which is like the old one of which came first, the hen or
the egg.
Thenmajrity of scholars consider that 'Olmec' art was later
than earlyMav and-that its creators understood so little of
the complexity of the Maya calendar that they made errors,
giving a fictitious impression of antiquity. Others claim that
the early sculpture is a decisive argument for the antiquity of
'Olmec' art an ta the inscriptions are contemporaneous.
Furthermore, tley argue that the position of the Olmecs in
the midst of Maya, Zapotec and other tribes with different art
styles and calendar systems indicates a centre from which such
i. Wash-ac-toon'.

40 Aztecs of Mexico
elements were diffused. However, later research is bound to
answer this question.
The excavation of Tres Zapotes discloses that after the first
period the inhabitants developed a well-defined local style
which had connections with the so-called Totonac cultures
northwards up the Vera Cruz coast. This period seems to have
been a long one, to judge from the amount of mound-build-
ing and the quantity of pottery and figurines dug up. In the
final epoch Mexican influence seeped in, testifying to the
spread of the Nahua-speaking peoples of the Central Plateau.
Since the work at Tres Za~pesstill in progress, we cannot
yet sum up the final conclusions as to the historical and cul-
tural affiliations of the occupants of this site. None the less, the
pattern of development followed the same lines we have
noted before. (See Plate Io.)
On the uplands of Oaxaca, south-west of the Olmec coun-
try, another local civilization flourished, that of th apotes.
Their chief ceremonial site, Monte Alban, has been extends vely
excavated. It covers a small mountain, levelled and terraced in-
to a gigantic natural platform which supports lesser artificial
structures such as temples and ball courts. The five periods of
occupation disclose the same sort of culture history that we
have sketched previously, but Zapotec art styles and writing
were quite different from those of their eastern neighbours (24).
Monte Alban in its earliest period was the home of a people
who made pottery and figurines of-Midle-Culture quality.
They were advanced enough to rearphtfefmis for their tem-
ples and they carved in relief human figures reminiscent of
'Olmec' art to adorn their buildings. Hieroglyphs accom-
panied some of them, suggesting further connection with Vera
Cruz; and two 'Olmec' divinities, the infantile god and the
tiger god, were represented in ceremonial vases of the period.
But a later phase-showed a gradual shift awayfrom 'pOlmec'
influence. Stones were inscribed in a distinctive writing, and
calendric calculations were set forth, not in the elaborate long

The Historical and Cultural Background 41
count of the Mayas, but in an abbreviated system which fixed
a date in terms of a fifty-two-year cycle. The art also reveals
a vague suggestion of Maya influence, and occasional vessel
forms recall shapes found early in Maya history. (See Plates 8-9.)
The third and fourdrstages of Monte Alban were of long \
duration The Zapotecs grew less susceptible to foreign in-
fluence and developed a strongly regional theology and art. At / -
the close of this era they appeared tb be in contact with north-
ern peoples, like the Toltecs of Central Mexico, and their cul-
ture underwent a transformation in its fifth and final period.
A new people, the Miec, came into the Valley of Oaxaca,
and brought with them a new art, new gods and a new type of
calendar and writing.
This later religious civilization was also spread into the Maya
country by members of a totally different linguistic stock, the
Nahua, and it reached its zenith among the Aztecs of Central
Mexico. Research has not progressed to the point where we
can identify the formulators of this civilization. Its place of
origin seems definitely to centre in the lands of the Mixtecs in
northern Oaxaca and in the territory of Nahua tribes in Pueb-
la. Thus to call the civilization Mixteca-Puebla and to identi-
fy its latest carriers under their tribal name, when this is known.
seem the best ways to reconcile cultural with political history.
In much the same way we use the term Western civilization to
cover those culture elements shared by the nations of Europe
and theAmericas. (See Plates 7, I, 12.)
In Central Mexico, at the north-western frontier of the
zone of high civilization, we find the same sort of sequence
which we have set forth for the Mayas, the Olmecs and the
Zapotecs. LFst there was a long Middle Culture occupation;
second, a shift in-rultfre hereby another group, basically
Middle Culture, took on the beginnings of a civilized status as
shown by the presence of mounds and the sculptural representa-
tion of one or two gods. Out of a branch of this Upper Middle
Culture a third phase developed, a majestic ceremonial civiliza-

42 Aztecs of Mexico
tion called Teotihuacan1 or classical Toltec, which was sur-
passed by its southern contemporaFe'soiily through their
superior development of sculpture and the religious calendar.
A fourth interval in the history of the Valley of Mexico was
known as the Chichimec2 Period, and comprised a phase of
decline when the Teotihuacan Toltecs disintegrated and mi-
grant tribes vied with one another for supremacy. Finally a fifth
phase saw the introduction of het emonial civilization, de-
veloped by the Mixteca-Puebla peoples, which culminated
in the doin-atfioon-fteAztecs (25).
The Aztecs and their forebears grew up on the outer bor-
ders of an intensely civilized area in which the cultural history
of its various peoples seems to have been very similar. Out of
a long period of exploration and experimentation, the pro-
cesses of which we have to reconstruct from our knowledge of
the archaeology and ethnology of surviving cultures in North
America, some of the tribes developed the sedentary life based
on agriculture, typical of the Middle Cultures. This economy
persisted for many centuries, and in some places was never
modified. However, somewhere in Guatemala or southern
Mexico the conception of a ceremonial centre for religious
practices changed the older pattern of life. Conditions in for-
ested country, as we have noted, would seem to offer the most
urgent reasons for such a practice, but it spread over the
Highland area as well.
In the train of this ceremonial architecture followed closely
the ritualistic definition of the gods and, elaborated in various
degrees, a calendric system closely tied in with their worship.
e development of these practices followed tribal lines, creat-
ing regional art styles and special religious modifications.
There seems to be a correlation between the evolution of these
tribal styles and the spreading out of an increasing population.
Yet these populations at first do not seem to have had close
enough contact to modify specifically the patterns and styles of
I. Tay-o-tee-wah-can'. 2. Chee'-chee-mec.

The Historical and Cultural Background 43
each other's cultures. Eventually this protracted phase of inde-
pendent civilization ended with a spread of ideas and peoples,
derived from Central Mexico, which continued for the last
four centuries before the Spanish Conquest.
Estimates of time are hard to make in the absence of specific
dates. Yet to allow eight centuries for the duration of the in-
dependent civilizations does not seem excessive, and to as-
sume a similar length of time for the Middle Culrlre phases )5
appears to be well within the bounds of probability. However, v
several thousand years could have elapsed between the first
immigrations to America and the establishment of sedentary .
agricultural settlements like those of the Middle Cultures. .
Rhythms of development are obviously not the same in all ,
areas. The conditions of the natural environment had a pro-
found effect on the progress of the American Indians, and the
causes which affect the rise and decline of the birth rate likewise
played a part in theirhistory. The forces leading to invention and
to the development of techniques, the status of the various tribal
societies, and many other important factors must have operated
in this historical evolution, but it is next to impossible to recon-
struct them from the mute evidence of archaeological remains.
Since the history of the Aztecs and their forebears is better
known than that of any other American Indian population,
it is worth while to see how closely we can reconstruct the
social, economic and environmental forces which affected
them. Indian and Spanish sources illuminate the Aztec period,
and dim traditions shed a faint light on the decline and fall of
the Toltecs of Teotihuacan. Only for the Middle Culture
peoples do we have to rely solely on material remains; never-
theless, in the Valley of Mexico the deep refuse-heaps accumu-
lated through the centuries present a record more detailed and
capable of interpretation than are found elsewhere in Middle
America. Therefore, the history of the Aztecs and their fore-
bears presents in small compass the major trends which gov-
erned the rise of Middle American civilization.




proxi- proxi
mate US. US. Central h Ox Vr Cruz Highland Lowland Peru Peru mate
Dates Southeast Southwest Mexico Maya Maya North Coast South Highland Dates


1600 Fceblo V 1600oo
iSoo Temple Aztec 4 Cholula 5 Monte Chipal 3 Late Chimu 1500
Mound II Alban 5 plus Inca
400oo Temple Pueblo IV Aztec 3 Cempoala Chichen Itza 3 Inca Inca r400oo
Mound I Conquest
1300 Burial Aztec 2 Cholla 4 Late Chimu 13oo
Mound II
1200 Burial Pueblo III Aztec i Chipal 2 Chichen Itza a Inca 1200

110 rMazapan Cohlla 3 Cerro Montoso Black- t oo

bioo Early Pueblo II Teotihuacan Monte hipl San Josa 3-5 Decadent zooo
Stages Alban 4 Tiahuanaco
900Stages Teoihuacan 4 Ranchito de Cham 4 Uaxactun 3 Tiahuanaco 900
las Animas
800 Pueblo I Teotiiuacan 3 Tres Zapotes 3 Chama 3 Holmul 5 Gallinazo- Chiripa 8oo
Chavin 11

700 Monte Kaminaljuy6 Early Pukara 700
Alban 3 Chimu B Classic
6oo Basket Teotihuacan 2 Ciolula a Chama 2 San Jos6 2 Tiahuanaco 6oo
Maker II Holmul 2-4
Soo Uaxactun 2 500
Teotihuacan i Early
400 Basket Cuicuilco Monte Tres Zapotes a Cham i Holmul i Chimu A 400
Maker II Ticoman Alban


Basket. Gulupita i Cholula i Monte Tres Zapotes I Uaxactua ib Chavin I Early 300
300 Maker 1(?) Alban i Tiahuanaco
200 Copilco- La Venta 200
(Zacatenco Uaxactun la
100 Early Miraflores io0
o Early El o
Arbolillo I
o 103oo
200 200


1000 1000
200oo Desert 00oo
5000 Cochise Argentine ;ooo
o00oo Folsom 1ooco
2000o0 ao2

An attempt to interpret the history and society of the earliest peoples found in
Central Mexico through their archaeological remains

THE first peoples of whom we have a record in the Valley of
Mexico lived on the Middle Culture plane in the centuries im-
mediately preceding and fOllwineg-tf birth of Christ. They
occupied permanent village-snubsistedchiefly on the products
of their fields, made adequate implements of stone, bone and
clay, and fashioned little idols of terra cotta. Their level of
development was about midway between relay l imi-
tive hunting or farming society and the moeelaborate social
and technical sst Wesf erem -civilizations. In the
Valley of Mexico there were two occupations of this type,
which we may distinguish as Lower and Upper. The people of
the Upper Middle Cultures introduced the ceremonial mound
or platform an made occasional images of gods, defined ac-
cording to the laws of their ritual, while the Lower Middle
population followed a simpler religious presentation (i).
(See Plate 13.)
The Valley of Mexico was a superb place to live in at that
time. Seven thousand feet above sea level high mountain chains
walled in a fertile valley in which lay a great salt lake, Tex-
coco,' fed at the south by two sweet-water lagoons, Xochi-
milco2 and Chalco; at the north-west by two more, Xalto-
can3 and Zumpango, and at the North-east by a sluggish
stream, the Acolman River, which drained the fertile Valley
of Teotihuacan.4 The lakes were shallow, and their marshy
shores, thick with reeds, attracted a teeming abundance of wild
I. Tes-co'-co. 3. Hal-to'-can.
2. Sho-chee-meel'-co. 4. Tay-o-tee-wah-can'.

The Middle Cultures in the Valley of Mexico 47
fowl. On the wooded mountain slopes deer abounded. During
the rainy season thick alluvial deposits, ideal for primitive
agriculture, were washed down along the lake shores.
As village sites, the Middle Culture peoples selected points
along the lake where they could take the greatest advantage of
the natural resources of lake and forest, and cultivate most
easily their crops of corn, cotton and other plants. Once lo-
cated in a suitable spot, they stayed there for a long, long time,
enough for 25 feet of refuse to accumulate at the site of El
Arbolillo1 and I5 feet at Zacatenco2.
Their homes were impermanent affairs which left no rem-
nants of foundations, floors or fire-pits. Little fragments of
burned clay, impressed with stick-marks, suggest that the
dwellings were of wattle, daubed with mud and covered by
a thatched roof, like the homes of modern Indian communi-
ties in this very valley. The inhabitants were not troubled by
ideas of sanitation or civic neatness, and threw their refuse on
their own doorsteps. Broken pottery, animal bones, all the
nameless trash that man rejects, found their way to the dump-
heap, but its most conspicuous element was corn shocks,
which, in the absence of domestic animals, had no possible
use. This vegetable matter, disintegrating into earth, caused
the middens to accumulate rapidly and, indirectly, has aided
archaeological research, for an object dropped into this mess
was as lost as the proverbial needle in a haystack. Even the
dead found their way into the middens, not, however, because
of their survivors' lack of respect, but because graves were
dug more easily with wooden tools in the soft, churned earth
of the refuse-heaps than in undisturbed soil.
Mexican myths and annals give no clu to the identityof
t men o t he languagehey spoke. The study of their
skeletal remains reveals people of medium height, composed
of several physical strains; but not enough material has been
amassed to trace these affiliations precisely. The middens, how-
I. El Arb-o-lee'-yo. 2. Za-ca-te'n-o.

48 Aztecs of Mexico
ever, filthy and fly-blown as they may have been, are real
historical documents. Laid down gradually through the years,
the successive layers disclose the different types and.styles of
the people's tools and utensils (2).
Archaeological research refers to these Lower Middle re-
mains in the Valley of Mexico as the Copilco-Zacatenco cul-
ture, named from the sites where the materialwsErst studied.
The stylistic sequences also receive-their names from the places
where they were first determined. Specimens of both the
Lower and Upper Middle phases were referred to under vari-
ous names until 1917, when the first real excavation defining
the Lower Middle material was made under the lava quarry of
Copilco. In the winter of 1928-9 excavations at Zacatenco
showed that the Copilco remains were a late stage in the
history of the Lower Middle occupation of the Valley. Two
years later the excavation of El Arbolillo produced deep beds
of Early Zacatenco material, enabling us to detect three stages,
of which the earliest, El Arbolillo I, preceded Early Zaca-
tenco (3). (See Plate I.)
Thus archaeology works wih two sets factorsp4=elesin
thIe ast erter a ia l remam trmi btee d in distin-
guishing the one do not always apply justly to the other. A
style of pottery may be very useful and important in defining
the presence of a people at a given time, but it is a mere adjunct
to the reconstruction of their history. The making of the style
is not an important historical fact in itself. The technical litera-
ture of archaeological research must concern itself with the
methods of reconstructing Indian history, but such findings
appal the general reader, who quite reasonably wants to know
the history itself.
This digression, it is hoped, will explain Table II (p. 63), in
which is summarized the material evidence for the history of
Lower Middle Culture peoples of the Valley of Mexico, the
creators of the Copilco-Zacatenco culture. Their life-history
seems to have been a peaceful one, without external indications of

The Middle Cultures in the Valley of Mexico 49
of war or revolution. They made numerous tools of stone, the
forms of which were so satisfactory to them that there was
little change through several centuries. For many purposes
they used obsidian or volcanic glass. Hard but fragile, it could
be chipped into projectile points or scrapers and flaked offinto
long, narrow blades. Discarded fragments could be used
without re-touching, since the edges of a freshly broken piece
are as sharp as a razor-blade. Projectile points, which required
careful shaping, show changes through the years, caused by
technical improvements. For example, the stone-workers of
the later periods found that by notching the butt of an arrow-
head it could be more firmly lashed to its wooden shaft.
(See Plate I6, bottom.)
Metates and manos, the grinding-stones and mullers used to
grind corn kernels into flour, were made of lava rock and,
being efficiently developed for the purpose, were not changed
through the centuries. Axes and celts were rare, and the ex-
amples recovered were made of serpentine, porphyry and
jade, rocks not found in the Valley of Mexico. An occasional
beautifully worked jade ornament like an earplug or pendant,
indicated trade and the existence of more advanced culture
south of theNalleyignit- s
The tribesmen found deerhorn and bone very useful for
fashioning various kinds of tools, such as flakers for working
obsidian and awls for perforating hide or aiding in weaving
basketry, and they sometimes notched a deer shoulder-blade
to beat out a rhythm by rasping a stick along the serrations.
A few crude shell ornaments made from Pacific coast species
testify to trade to the south and west. Wood and basketry have
all disintegrated, so that we cannot tell whether the people
used the bow or the atl-atl, or what their techniques of
weaving were. However, we know that they did weave and
possibly beat out bark cloth, for some of their little clay
images are represented as wearing turbans. Furthermore, a
tiny fragment of cloth, miraculously preserved, was woven

50 Aztecs of Mexico
from cotton thread in one direction and apocynum fibres in the
other (4).
These people were practical potters, but were not troubled
Sundulyby.a-an esthetic urge. Ninety per cent of their vessels
were solidly constructed storage and cooking-jars, ranging in
colour from a light tan to the shade of a bay horse. At first they
made black bowls with three little feet, and incised a rude geo-
metric design, into which they rubbed red paint. Later they
grooved a pattern before applying a slip or wash, a practice
which led ultimately to handsome channelled designs. In their
later days they gave up this practice, changed the vessel shape
and, after the bowl was fired, took a piece of obsidian and
etched a running pattern that had the same relation to the pre-
vious stiff geometric design that script has to block lettering.
(See Plates 16, top; 17, top.)
Painted decoration was not very popular. At one village,
Zacatenco, in the early period, there was a fashion of painting
white geometric designs on red clay. Later on this style shifted
to spreading white slip on vessels and adding a simple solid
design in red. There was some further experimentation in try-
ing out different types of slip, but the most conspicuous change
was in the shape of the bowls which, in the later period, differed
markedly from the earlier forms.
This impression of smug competence, uninspired by artistic
yearnings, is borne out by the little baked-clay images which
the people made in abundance. They were usually female, and
may have represented a mother goddess, symbolizing growth
and fertility a conception common among the religious ideas
of mankind. The figures were not valued in themselves, as they
are almost always found broken and discarded in the refuse-
heaps. Distinctive styles seemto have developed in different re-
gions. Among the vastly more numerous locally-made figur-
ines there are a few which are the standard types elsewhere, so
that if the little idols were not traded they must have been
brought in by pilgrims. When we consider how carefully,

The Middle Cultures in the Valley of Mexico 51
even if naively, the figures were made, and howclay idols were
manufactured in later periods to represent specific gods, we
must conclude that they had religious significance even at this
early date.
The early sculptor did not work in stone or wood. but clay.
His figures were small, seldom over six inches hig His
method was to model the head and torso first and then add de-
tails, like arms and legs, nose, eyes and ears, by pinching on
little pieces of clay. Later the figurine was fired, and often after
firing the face and body were painted with ornamental designs.
The sculptor strove for a naturalistic effect rather than follow
a rigid convention. Yet sitanrdized ways of doing things
produced styles that vary according to tribe and to changes in
fashion or in technical development and degeneration. (See
Plate 14, top.)
In our modern world we are accustomed to sophisticated
and self-conscious art forms. Seen objectively, these Early
Middle Culture figurines are dumpy and gross. Short, fat
bodies, blobby noses, protuberant eyes and stubby arms and
legs are not attributes of a graceful form, according to our way
of thinking. Yet handling one of these figurines and tracing
each step in its formation, one is conscious of an intense seri-
ousness and comprehends a whole world of thought dammed
by the want of technical facilityinexpression. An intuitive per-
son sometimes sees a populous world of shining fantasy behind
the meagre scribbling of a child. Behind these figurines must
have existed an austere realization of the complex rhythms
of birth, growth and death in nature, epitomized in the
miracle of woman and her bearing of children. (See Plate 14,
The process of experimentation kept on throughout the
early part of the Lower Middle Period. A careful observer can
see how certain manners of presentation dominated the sculp-
tor's interest from time to time. The work of one custer of
settlements differed from that of another, and figurines seem

52 Aztecs of Mexico
to have been exchanged between communities. Perhaps the
most attractive type developed in this era had its centre in
Puebla and Morelos, but was so liked by the people of the
northern Valley of Mexico that a small but constant quantity
has been foundat almost every village. These figurines, in con-
trast to the matronly bearing of the local images, have some-
thing of a girlish grace. They are too distinctive and differ too
sharply from the northern-Valley forms to have been copies
made by the local artisans. (See Plate 15.)
However, as time went on, the importation of another new
style (Type A) stimi-latiocal adaptations. This sculpture re-
^ produced in relatively accurate proportions the rounded con-
tours of the Central AnricaniaTe The artist, by sinking his
. wads of clay into slots, was able to reproduce the curves of the
1 nose and lips more accurately in relation to the face planes.
This new style had no discovered prototypes in the Valley of
Mexico, and seems to have been evolved originally by Tres
Zapotes sculptors during the early 'Olmec' occupation. Its
introduction to the Valley also brought distinctive changes in
the form and decoration of certain types of pottery bowls, and
had a pronounced effect on the local tradition of clay model-
ling. The painstaking methods of the early work were neg-
lected for the slap-dash fashioning of flat gingerbread forms,
coarsely conventionalized. One contemporary style was so
crude that it may have been made as an intentional grotesque.
Another quaint concept evolved at the time was a two-headed
being which must have represented some god or mythological
personage. (See Plate 17, middle, bottom.)
Thus, to judge from the material remains, the Lower
Middle Culture people e-~tA 'oCnt cr ris developing their
own techniques without being affected very much by outside
peoples. Then they suddenly showed signs of being strongly
influenced by external groups from whom they brroweda..
art style and new tpes opotery. The social significance of
this typological change isard-interpret. (See Plate 17.)

The Middle Cultures in the Valley of Mexico 53
The history of art is also the history of artists who, in a pri-
mitive community, are not a specialized class but the people
themselves. When an art is created for religious purposes the
development of the content of the religion and the require-
ments of ritual are as important as the evolution of the artistic
technique. These little figurines, judged by the standards of
the great arts of the world, are feeble and fumbling examples
of the social process which, in our own culture, we designate
as aesthetic. Even as the dissection of a frog leads to the under-
standing of the biology of more advanced organisms, so we
can see how the plastic art of this Lower Middle Culture passed
from a period of convention to one of experiment, and then
settled back to convention again. Contactwith a foreignsource
of inspiration brought in a new manner of presentation which
may have withered interest in the older technique. Such
rhythms appear over and over again in the history of art.
The religious significance of the figurines is less intelligible.
A common concept in the religion of farming peoples is that ,
of a emal prinripnr-gnecraive frnc tied up with growth o
and productivity. A goddess frequently symbolizes that belief,
since man often invests the processes of Nature with his own,,
attributes and motives. The little clay figures ofZacatenco and
El Arbolillo always represent women, some of whom carry
children in their arms, but no two wear precisely the same
costume. A few exceptional examples have two heads.
Such evidence is little to build on, but it is all we have. We
do not know what lay behind the sculpture in the way of theo-
logy, philosophy and ritual. The modem Pueblo Indians of
our own South-west have few ceremonial objects which could
survive destruction and decay, and such implements as they
have by no means reflect the full complexity of religion and
ritual which these people possess. We should not, therefore,
leap to the assumption that the Lower Middle Culture people
were lacking in religious development because of the crude-
ness of their surviving ceremonial equipment.

54 Aztecs of Mexico
The only other index to the religious practices of this period
is the treatment of the dead. They were buried, but seldom ac-
cording to a set plan. Some were-contracted, others extended;
usually a singlepersordwasburied at a time. Yet group burials
occurred, and the differences in the age and sex of the occu-
pants of a single grave suggest a familyinterment. The skele-
tons exhumed show no marks of death by war or sacrifice.
Disease has left no trace, but over a quarter of the dead were
children, and few individuals reached old age. Offerings like
pots, tools, weapons and ornaments often accompanied bur-
ials, but prosperity in life may have had something to do with
the practice. At El Arbolillo one half of the dead, irrespective of
age and sex, had offerings, but at Zacatenco, less than five miles
away, only one out of eighteen was so honoured. The mour-
ners covered a few of the corpses with red paint made from
haematite; they left with one'man his ornament of turquoise
mosaic and endowed a tiny baby with two jade ear ornaments
and two pottery bowls, an unprecedented gift, suggesting ex-
ceptional parental grief or wealth. Some of the dead they
dumped into shallow pits, while they stretched others out in
formal tombs, lined and covered with stone slabs and floored
with clean beach sand (5).
The government of these Lower Middle Culture people is
not told in this earthy record. The economics are only family
otined: g and a itle trade th ch.
Status in society was apparently recognized, since the burials
differed in richness of equipment, and most people grant hon-
our to the dead in the same proportion as prestige to the living.
The tenor of life was peaceful in the main, but Nature seems
to have intervened with occasional violence. At Zacatenco the
lake level suddenly rose just at the dawn of the late period.
Whether the changes in art styles were brought in by refugees,
driven from their homes by the rising waters, or were due to
modes and fashions from farther afield, is still a moot question.
Some communities, inhabited at the end of this period, were

The Middle Cultures in the Valley of Mexico 55
abandoned as local floods swept over them, sealing the re-
mains under several feet of silt (6).
Yet ahrptly the Lower Middle Culre ople disappeared,
and their stylistic traditions did not anger on into later periods.
Immigrants took their place who were th~ akers hep-
per Mi urges ofCuicuilco-Ticoman1 (named from Cui-
cuilco, the greaimoun-d-ierected to honour their gods, and
Ticoman, their most carefully studied village site) (Table III,
p. 64).
The Upper Middle Culture throve in the Valley of Mexico,
Morelos, Puebla, Michoacan and in Vera Cruz. It was already
in existence during the later phases of the Lower Middle Cul-
ture, in Morelos, south of the Valley of Mexico. Whereas
the Copilco-Zacatenco styles ceased abruptly, the Uper Mid-
le techniques persisted into the later Teonihiaran rivilizatinn
and the high cultures of western Mexico The Upper Middle
artn contrast to the unity of the Lower, had strong local
variations. Yet the Uper-MijdleC tures were the scaffolding
used to erect the ceremony civilization of the Teotihuacan
Toltecs, and as such take an important place in Mexican his-
tory (7). (See Plate 13.)
A meagre listing of objects found in the earth constitutes the
historical record of the Upper Middle Cultures, but by con-
trasting these pots and tools with those of the preceding era
social forces may be seen at work. At Ticoman, the most care-
fully studied village site, the population terraced their rocky
peninsula to make level places for houses which were too per-
ishable to leave traces for later archaeological reconstruction.
In the refuse-beds deer bones are less in evidence than in the
adjacent sites of the preceding period, indicating that game
was gradually being hunted off. The Ticomanos made a greater
variety of stone tools, both in shape and in purpose, and they
found that the flakes of obsidian could be worked more
easily than the more solid fragments used in Lower Middle
i. Kwee-kweel'-co-Tee-co-man'.

56 Aztecs of Mexico
times. Yet as techniques became more complex the capabili-
ties of the individuals differed. We found two graves ofleather-
workers who were buried with the tools of their trade; one
carefully fashioned his implements, while the other contented
himself with chips and flakes, as if he cared more about finish-
ing the job than about taking pride in sheer workmanship.
(See Plate 16, upper, middle.)
The potters showed this same interest in improving the
manner of living. They made a much higher proportion of
carefully fashioned vesselsor the service of food than did their
Lower Middle predecessors. Theywere attracted more by
shape and finish than_-bpainted designs. Not content with
little tripods to hold the vessels steady, they modelled the legs
with care, and often filled them with pellets to make them
rattle pleasingly. At first they had trouble painting designs be-
cause the burnishing process caused the red paint to run. They
tried to correct this after firing by outlining the blurred pat-
tern with an obsidian blade. Later they found that painting a
heavy white outline gave a pleasing trichrome effect, which at
the end of the era they abandoned for simple polishing. (See
Plates 19, 20, top.)
They also experimented with anew process, negative-paint-
ingm th ame techniqrp- tii A vessel was coated with wax
or gum, which was t en scraped away to make a pattern. The
pot was next covered with paint, and when fired the gum
burned away, leaving only the scraped portion coloured. This
method of decoration may have had its origin in Central and
South America, where the practice is more common, and the
technique may well have passed from tribe to tribe until, at
this early date, it reached the Valley of Mexico in an imperfect
form. Archaeology does not reveal the use of an analogous
method for textiles, but in the early days of Indian Peru gar-
ments were beautifully treated in batik (8).
Trade was much more extensi than in Lower Middle
times. Shll wa r rne mcr earfil wre,

The Middle Cultures in the Valley of Mexico 57
but the varieties were those of the Vera Cruz coast, in con-
trast to the west-coast origin of the Lower Middle shells. Orna-
ments and axes of jade, porphyry and serpentine also pointed
to an eastern origin, but fragments of pottery seemed to dis-
close a wide radius of commercial activity.
The figurine cult was still very important and the imagi-
native persorrcani read into these little votive objects the art "
history of a forgotten people. Before the Upper Middle Cul- i
ture spread out into the Valley of Mexico there was a little
settlement in the present ward of Gualupita in Cuernavaca.1 \
The inhabitants made clay idols, stiff and clumsy like the
Lower Middle figurines of the Valley but distinct from them \
in style. Sporadic examples traded from one region to another
show that early Gualupita was contemporary with the Lower
Middle Cultures of the Valley. These Gualupita forms, ob-
viously representative of a much more widely distributed art,
later crystallized into a happy little style wherein the conven-
tionalized treatment of the face was balanced by the variety
of the head-dress and of the posture. Thistypewas being made
by the Upper Middle people when they filtered into the Val-
ley of Mexico (9). (See Plates 19, 2o, bottom.)
The wave of echnicaLexperiment that affected the other
artisans also stimulated the sculptors, and they began to ela-
borate these shapes, making grotesques as well as naturalistic
human beings, in which they tried to depict different positions
and even actions. They polished the surfaces to enhance the
form by the lustre ofits fmh. To our modem eye the results
are not particularly impressive, but they marked a step in the
technical development of the art. Finally out of this chaos in
miniature two styles developed-shat must have been satisfac-
tory to the tribal sculptors, since they were in vogue to the ex-
clusion of all others.-In on-rie-- figures were coated with a
polished white paint, sometimes touched up in red. They were
shown seated orT-tandinigarranging their hair, covering their
-1 .-Kwayr-na-va'-ca.

58 Aztecs of Mexico
eyes, holding a bowl and performing various acts. In the other
there was a return to applying pieces of clay in meticulous
detail, emphasizing ornaments and hairdress, as well as the
limbs and features of the individuals. While most of the figur-
ines were female, a few were obviously male, a suggestion, even
thoughtenuous, that the theology was becoming more complex.
Supporting this theory, we find two carefully individualized
beings portrayed with bmet-skill. One is a figure with a con-
torted mouth and the gnraml linnmnt f n bhy. In the
Valley of Mexico this personage was crudely conventional-
ized, but at Gualupita, a sculptor made superb and large-sized
representations that stand far above the general artistic norm.
They seem truly to reflect in clay the strange infantile beings,
hewn out of gigantic boulders or graven on stone slabs, that
dominated the religious art of the Olmecs in Vera Cruz (o1).
(See Plate 20, bottom.)
The other being, portrayed in both clay and stone, js anold
man who sits with hnwed heal-supporting on his hea cand
shoulders_ bowl.-Eii ningincense. This god was also im-
portant in the Teotihuacan civilization and in Aztec times,
when he was appropriately called Huehueteotl,1 the Old God,
and sometimes Xiuhtecuhti,2 Lord of Fire. Such a divinity is
peculiarly fitting for a volcanic region, and his presentation as
an old man suggests the manifest antiquity of mountains. His
continuous worship for many centuries would seem to make
him the oldest god ritualistically shown in Middle America,
even though the mother goddess of corn and growth may re-
present an earlier concept (in). (See Plate 18, top left.)
Yet the full impact of Middle American religion on those
Central Mexican villagers is symbolized by the great adobe
mound of Cuicuilco. On the skirts of the volcanic range of
Ajusco,3 at the south-west of the valley, tribesmen built a mas-
sive oval mound, approximately 369 feet in diameter and 60
feet high, to the top of which led a wide ramp. They faced the
i. Way-way-tay'-otl. 2. Shee-oo-te-cootli'. 3. A-hoos'-co.

The Middle Cultures in the Valley of Mexico 59
sides with river boulders to guard against the erosion of sea-
sonal rains and, perhaps, to add to the effect of rugged majesty.
They reared no stately temple on the summit but instead con-
structed an altar, open alike to the sky and to the eyes of the
congregation. With its lack of the stiff rectangles of formalized
direction, the mound seems, to a modern, almost a spontane-
ous evocation of the mass religious spirit. The altar is a direct
contrast; here sloping rectilinear walls and a pair of steps
flanked by low balustrades presage the developed architecture
of a later day. The sides are faced with smoothed adobe to
approach as nearly as possible the plaster-work of religious
architecture fully developed elsewhere. The whole beautifully
symbolizes the introduction of a cherished ritual, as exempli-
fied by the altar, to the mass need of a large population, re-
presented by the mighty mound (11). (See Plate 18, bottom.)
The people of Cuicuilco added twice to their temple, each
time replacing the altar by setting another above it. Once they
added a new facing to the structure, utilizing jagged blocks of
lava instead of the river-boulders. They allowed refuse to pile
up around the base, covering up a narrow passage of stones set
on edge, which answered some forgotten purpose of the early
builders. In time they paid little attention to their creation, and
the rains weakened the stone veneer and let the sides slump
down. Then a volcano, Xitli,1 erupted, and molten lava
poured down along the slopes and flowed over the country-
side, creating the volcanic desert of the modem Pedregal
Cooling, it left many feet of solid stone, sealing in the lower
third of the platform. The flow was stopped by the lake after
it had also covered up several abandoned sites of earlier date,
like Copilco. However, the molten flood affected directly only
a small part of the Valley of Mexico.
The desert of the Pedregal is a waste-land. The lava quar-
ried from the congealed stream is now the principal building
stone of Central Mexico and the ballast for its tracks and its
i. Shee'-tly.

6o Aztecs of Mexico
motor roads. In exploring the quarries the early discovery of
Copilco was made. Then the artificial mound projecting
through the Pedregal challenged the imagination of Dr Gamio,
who requested Dr Bryon CummingsT- -undertake the ex-
cavation of Cuicuilco. Finding traces of man underneath this
impenetrable sheet of rock suggested a culture of immeasur-
able antiquity. When did the volcano erupt? On the answer
to that question hinges the ofthese-Middle Cultures, first
traces of man in Central Mexico.
The vast and precise learning of geology was brought into
play, and the geologists concurred that the flow was recent,
and gave it the trivial age of 2ooo to 10,000 years, nothing in
terms of the millenniums and multimillenniums in which they
usually measure time. But zooo to io,ooo years are enormous
units by which to count the history of man. The oldest legen-
dary history of Mexico reached back only to A.D. 500-700 for
the founding of Teotihuacan.-What -happened between that
date and the cataclysmf-the Pedregal? That was a problem
for archaeology to answer, if it could (12).
First the materials from Copilco and Cuicuilco, the two
buried sites, were compared, and found to be different. Then
these styles were discovered in other parts of the Valley in
open sites, unaffected by the local eruptions which formed the
Pedregal. Next several seasons of work in these open sites dis-
closed that not only was Copilco older than Cuicuilco but that
Copilco-Zacatenco culture was represented by rubbish-heaps
twice as deep as those at Cuicuilco-Ticoman. There is no way
to measure the rate of accumulation of such heaps. However,
on the basis of a deposit at Pecos,' New Mexico, the begin-
ning and ending dates of which are more or less known, it
does not seem unreasonable to compute six or seven centuries'
duration for the Lower Middle Culture of Copilco-Zacatenco
and 300 years or so for the life-span of the Upper Middle Cul-
turiefCu iiic1oRicoman (13). (See Plate 13.)
i. Pay'-cos.

The Middle Cultures in the Valley of Mexico 61
The next step was to fit Cuicuilco-Ticoman to the later
phases of Indian history in Mexico. Cuicuilco and Ticoman
material is stylistically akin to pottery and figurines found at
mound sites in Puebla and Morelos, suggesting that the mass-
ive shrine of Cuicuilco in the Valley was an outpost. The baby-
faced divinity leads -ack-othe-bi y remonialized 'Olmec'
culture in Vera Cruz, and the Fire God occurs not only at
Ticoman and Cuicuilco and the Upper Middle Culture site of
Jalapazco,1 in Puebla, but also very frequently at Teotihua-
Actual examples of Teotihuacan culture have appeared in
Gualupita and Ticoman. Yet much more significant was the
discovery at Teotihuacan that its earliest phase was closely
affiliated to pottery and figurines commonly occurring at Cui-
cuilco, Ticoman and Gualupita. Thus the beginning of the
Teotihuacan civilization was a part of the same cultural mani-
festation that we have characterized as the Upper Middle Cul-
tures. The lava-flow of the Pedregal must be dated in terms of
the continuous history of the Valley of Mexico tribes. Cui-
cuilco was abandoned before the flow took place and, to judge
from the destruction, an appreciable time before. Six or seven
hundred A.D. then is none too late a date for the eruption (14).
(See Plate 21.)
Therefore, we must conclude that one or two centuries prior
to the dawn of the Christian Era sedentary farmers were
maintaining themselves in the Valley.of Mexico. Their culture
was sufficient for their needs, and very little in the way of out-
side influence affected them. Towards the end, influences in art
or, more precisely, religious representation began to modify
their culture. Finally, in the third or fourth century after
Christ they seem to have withdrawn from the Valley, giving
way before the pressureofajiw-people.
These new people may well have come from the regions east
and south of the Valley of Mexico, now embraced in the states
i. Hah-lah-pah'z-co.

62 Aztecs of Mexico
of Morelos and Puebla, and seem to have been in a ferment of
technical and religious experiment. They showed greater
interest than their predecessors in modelling and technique,
and exercised something of an artistic independence between
villages. Their most impressive contributions were the intro-
duction of religious architecture and-tn egier- ings-e defined
ritualistic art. Their contactsmin trade andin intellectual in-
spiration were with the peoples of the east coast, but they
worked out their styles in their own way. Some groups built
clusters of mounds; others seem not to have taken up this type
of architecture. They abandoned Cuicuilco, where they built
their largest platform, possibly owing to warnings of the
cataclysm that later took place when the Pedregal was formed.
Another site, fifty miles away across the lake, eventually
evolved into the great ceremonial centre of'Teotihuacan, the
first and mightiest of the temple tiesfCentral Mexico.
With the foundation of this new capital the frontier of
Middle American civilization shifted from the south and east
of the Valley of Mexico to the territory north and west of it.
The Valley was no longer the haunt of tribes taking their first
steps towards ritualized civilization, but the prouddomain of
the Toltecs, traditional fours of c'iization in Central
Mexico, who had their capital at Teotihuacan.



EARLY PHASE: Permanent villages, gradual evolution and changes in
pottery and figurine types. Long occupation, stages of which are
better defined at some sites than others.
Early El Arbolillo I: Figurines, C3a, C3b, Ci-2, C2, pottery in-
cised black with red paint.
Intermediate El Arbolillo I, Early Zacatenco: Figurines, CI-2, C2,
pottery incised black, thick black, white, white on red, vague
olla necks; laurel-leaf points.
Late El Arbolillo I, Early Zacatenco: Figurines, Cia, Cib, C3c,
C3d, Di, early F; pottery as in intermediate period.
LATE PHASE: Permanent villages, sharp shift in figurine and pottery
styles, introduction of new figurine style, type A; evidence of local
floods at beginning and end of Late Phase, which seems shorter than
Early Phase.
Transitional El Arbolillo I, Transitional Zacatenco: Figurines, B-C,
Copilco, Middle Zacatenco, El Arbolillo II: Figurines, A, B, F, C5;
pottery thin black with etched design, red on white, red on
yellow, trade wares; stone points with tangs.



EARLY PHASE: Permanent villages in Puebla and Morelos; pottery and
figurines in distinctive styles; trade connections suggest contem-
poraneity with Late Phase of Middle Cultures of Valley of Mexico.
Gualupita I, Cholula I: Figurines, Di, D2, D3, K, 0; pottery,
simple silhouette bowls and bottles in brown and red ware.
LATE PHASE: Permanent villages, introduction of platforms and altars;
evolution from Early Phase in Morelos and Puebla; replacement of
Lower Middle Cultures in the Valley of Mexico without transition;
distinctive figurines and pottery which go through gradual evolu-
tion; ritualized presentations; some sites better defined than others;
first settlement ofTeotihuacan; lava flow ofPedregal after abandon-
ment of Cuicuilco.
Early Ticoman-Cuicuilco I: Figurines, Er, E2, E3, 13; red-on-
yellow incised pottery; disc earplugs.
Intermediate Ticoman, Cuicuilco II: Figurines GI, Gz, II, a1, E4,
J, M, N; red-on-yellow pottery with white outline; incised ear-
Late Ticoman, Cuicuilco III, Late Zacatenco, Gualupita II, Teotihuacan
I: Other sites in Puebla and Morelos; figurines, HI-5; in Gu-
alupita, C9 and hollow figures; fire gods at Cuicuilco and Tico-
man; pottery polished and elaborate tripod supports; carved ear-
plugs hollowed in centre.

A description of a civilization, the monuments of which are the wonder of
Mexico, and an attempt to reconstruct the history of its creators from the
meagre and distorted sources available

THE Toltecs or Master Builders were the first people mention-
ed in the annals of the Valley ofMexico. Their customs and
achievements are so wrapped in the mystery which myth
draws over the raw facts of history, and so confusing and illo-
gical are the references to them, that a leading Mexicanist
once challenged their very existence (I). The facts of the case
seem to be that, in the late migration period between the tenth
and fourteenth centuries, marauding tribes applied the term
Toltec to whatever settled population they met, and later as-
sumed that name themselves as a badge of advertisement of
being civilized. In our own cultural history we have frequent
cases of the names of stately European capitals being similarly
applied in wistful hope to the tiny hamlets of the first settlers
of North America. (See Plate 21.)
One set of annals refers to an imposing civilization whose
creators we may call Toltecs of Teotihuacan from their ma-
jestic capital (2). Other histories recount the lineage of chiefs
of different tribes, which we may distinguish as Dynastic Tol-
tecs (3). If the history of Europe were recounted in fragmentary
records without consecutive dates we should have a similar
difficulty in distinguishing between the Roman Empire of
Caesar and Augustus and, say, the Holy Roman Empire, which
one writer has defined as neither holy nor Roman nor an
The Teotihuacan Toltecs have been described as great archi-
tects, carpenteiwnd mechanics. They were skilled likewise in

66 Aztecs of Mexico
agriculture, cultivating corn, cotton, beans, chili peppers and
all the other domesticated plants known to Mexico. From cot-
ton they spun thread to be woven into cloth which ranged
from the fineness of linen to the thickness of velvet. The men
wore robes and breech-clouts, supplemented in cold weather
by sleeveless jackets, and were shod with sandals of henequen,
the fibre of a variety of maguey. Women dressed in huipiles,1
sleeveless blouses, and enaguas, skirts made by wrapping a long
strip of cotton around the waist and legs, a costume which still
persists in the Indian villages of modern Mexico. Warriors
s. wore armour made of quilted cotton, and used spears and
wooden clubs set with blades of obsidian. The club-wielders
carried shields, and Ixtlilxochitl 2 says that some soldiers had
copper helmets, although no trace of this metal has been
officially reported from Teotihuacan-Toltec sites. Priests were
distinguished by a more elaborate costume composed of a
headdress and a long black tunic which touched the ground (4).
(See Plate 24, bottom.)
The 'kings' wore robes like the priests and adorned them-
selves with necklaces and earrings. They wore socks as well as
sandals, a great elegance for sandal-wearing people. They dis-
tinguished themselves as much by conduct as by dress, rising
early and eating only at daybreak and at nightfall. They spoke
ttle, but to the point. A 'king' had one 'queen', and neither
{could remarry upon the death of the other, although com-
moners might take a second or even a third wife. A 'queen
could inherit the realm from her husband, and her legitimate
sons succeeded her, a statement suggesting that the austerity
of the martial ideal did not interfere with the royal pleasure.
The Toltecs built their palace and houses of stone and mor-
tar and used the temascal or steam bath, which still persists
among the modern Indians. They held a market every twenty
days, or each month in terms of the Middle American year.
These markets were located in Tula, Teotihuacan, Tulancingo,
i. Wee-ped'-ess. 2. Eesh-tleel-sho'-cheetl.
-IA-M.JL^W. {->f \9 -

Teotihuacan and the Classical Toltecs 67
Cuemavaca, Cholula, Tultitlan and several other towns where
remains of Teotihuacan occupation may still be seen. There is
additional evidence that the Toltecs counted their years and
used the sacred almanac of 260 days, according to the pattern
followed by their successors (5).
The religion of this bygone era is difficult to interpret, for
both the sixteenth-century Christian mentality and the late
Aztec theology distort for us its true structure. Ixtlilxochid re- '
ported a supreme being, Tloque Nahuaque,' who surpassed all
other gods. Howeverto a Sun God and his wife, the Moon
Goddess, traditionpersistently dedicates the two largest struc-
tures at the sacred city of Teotihuacan. Tlaloc, a Rain God,
was mentioned as highly important, and a Frog Goddess was
also honoured by a sumptuous temple. Quetzalcoad. Fea-
thered Serpen. was worshipped as the bringer of civilization
but the same name was used as a title for the chief priests.
There were persistent myths referring to the conflict between
an old worship and a new, symbolized by a struggle between
Quetzalcoad and the war and sky gods of the later Aztec re-
ligion (6).
Apparently a basic Nature-worship was transformed into
an elaborate polytheism. Later history tells of the struggles be-
tween the votaries of one god as opposed to those of another.
The elevation of a god to the role of tribal protector led to the
domination of his worshippers in the community, and was as
important to the ancient Mexican as the domination of an
economic or political system is to our modern populations.
There was then, as now, the same masking of desire for power
with conviction of rectitude. Probably, too, there was the
same confusion of motives in the individual.
The history of the Teotihuacan Toltecs is as tenuous as their
sociology and religion. The two chief sources, Ixtlilxochitl
and the Annals of Cuauhtitlan,4 refer to different localities, one
I. Tlo'-kay Nah'-wah-kay. 3. Kayt'-zal-co-ad.
2. Tlah'-loc. 4. Kwow-ti-tlan'.

68 Aztecs of Mexico
at Teotihuacan, the other at the west of the lake near Azcapot-
zalco.1 (7). The eastern history, written by Ixtlilxochitl, be-
gan very properly with-thecreation of the world and the four
Sor fveSansor eras, through which life has survived. The first
era, the WaterSun, was when the supreme god, Tloque Na-
huaque, created the world; and after 1716 years floods and
lightning destroyed it. The second era, the Sun of the hart,
saw the world populated by giants, the Quinametzin,2 who
almost disappeared when earthquakes obliterated the earth.
The Wind Sun camethird and Olmecs and Xicalancas,3 hu-
man tribes, lived on earth. They destroyed the surviving giants,
founded Cholula and migrated as far as Tabasco. A marvel-
lous personage, called Quetzalcoatl by some, Huemac 4 by
others, appeared in this erafiabrought ivilization and ethics.
When the people did not benefit from his teachings he re-
turned to the east, prophesying the destruction of the world by
high winds and the conversion of mankind into monkeys, all
of which came to pass. The fourth age, the present, is called
the Sun of Fire and will end in a general conflagration.
These four eras are mythological, with a small amount of
historical information incorporated (Table IV, p. 78). The
Aztec versions, which had five Suns, were more purely theo-
logical. Yet these mythical floods and fires may recapitulate
calamities, such as inundations and volcanic eruptions, which,
according to evidence found at Middle Culture sites, beset
man in Mexico.
Toltec hito, when it breaks through the background of
myth, describes a people wandering though Mexico. Under
the guidance of an astrologer priest, Huemac, they founded
the city ofTollan and elected a king whose reign was fixed at
fifty-two years. This was the length of an Aztec year cycle, a
major time unit having the same function as our century. The
list of the nine rulers is given in Table V (p. 79), but tribal events
I. Az-ca-pot-zal'-co. 3. Shee-cah-lan'-cas.
2. Keen-a-met'-zeen. 4. Way'-mac.

Teotihuacan and the Classical Toltecs 69
were seldom recorded until the end of the period. Huemac died
at the age of 300 in the reign of the second ruler, after compil-
ing a book of history and prophecy. This observation may be a
back-handed explanation of the introduction of established
ritualistic practices, including a calendar and architecture. The
sixth ruler, Mid, broke the order of length of rule, enlarged his
kingdom and built the splendid Temple of the Frog and many
other sumptuous structures. Mitl's association with extra-
ordinary building operations had a possible basis in fact, as we
shall see in describ-iig the Temple of Quetzalcoatl.
Significant events for the reigns of the last rulers are re-
corded. The eighth had a dominion extending over Toluca,
Cuemavaca, Yolotepec, Cholula and Jalisco. The old gods
were still worshipped, but the cult of two new ones, Tezcatli-
poca,1 the great Sky God, and Huitzilopochtli,2 the War God,
were introduced. During the reign of this king a lady, Xo-
chitl, popularized an intoxicating drink named pulque,4 made
from the fermented juice of the maguey, which is to-day the
standard tipple of Highland Mexico.
Topiltzin, the ninth king, who introduced the ball coUrt
had a reign fraught with disaster. In his time the domain of the
Toltecs disintegrated because of local revolts, invasions and the
bitter toll exacted by famine and pestilence. Teotihuacan was
abandoned. When they could, the people emigrated south to
Tabasco and Guatemala. Those who remained were absorbed
into the new tribes, and their lineage was assumed as a mark of
honour by the ruling houses of the succeeding Chichimec or
Dynastic Toltec period. Such is the story of the eastern Toltecs
as set forth by Ixdilxochid.'
The dignity and awe in which tradition holds the Toltecs
affect the modern visitor to Teotihuacan. Here in the valley
which bears its name, a vast area, three and a half miles long
and nearly two miles wide, was given over to clusters of im-
x. Tez-cat-li-po'-ca. 3. Sho'chid.
2. Weet-zeel-o-pdtch'-tly. 4. pool'-kay.

70 Aztecs of Mexico
posing buildings. The whole zone was paved with a plaster
floor, not once but many times. This was no residential city
but a great ceremonial centre given over to temples and houses
for the people engaged in religious activity. There is little trace
of the humble refuse of communal life. Teotihuacan is an im-
pressive monument to the toll which men exact from them-
selves for their salvation (8). (See Plate 22, top.)
The architects built their city in several successive precincts,
extending southwards from the mighty Pyramid of the Moon.
This was not a true pyramid but was truncated at the top to
give space for a temple, and the ascending planes were skilfully
broken to provide terraces. A broad stair led up the south side
from a wide rectangular court. Additional buildings flanked
this plaza, and several hundred yards to the east and west two
smaller precincts added to the symmetry of the plan.
Two rows of buildings of impressive size lead south from
the Moon Plaza. Excavation of one revealed lovely frescoes,
the content of which suggests a temple of Agriculture. Another
group of small mounds lies off to the east, and directly south is
a second large unexcavated group of temples, which, from the
emplacements found in the vicinity, is called the Group of the
The Pyramid of eSun dwarfs all the other buildings in
TeotihuacaThis great truncated pyramid, almost 700 feet at
the base, rises in four terraces to a height of over zoo feet. The
slopes were varied by their builders to create an impression of
greater mass. The exterior was faced with stone and covered
with plaster, but the pyramid proper was built of adobe bricks,
made from the refuse-beds of an earlier era. The fragments of
pottery, figurines and tools, embedded in the interior, were
transitional between the developed culture of Teotihuacan and
the Upper Middle Culture group. (See Plate 22, bottom.)
The Pyramid of the Sun is surrounded by a wide platform,
constructed of square cells, walled by adobe and filled with re-
fuse and rubble. Outside the enclosure are situated the houses

Teotihuacan and the Classical Toltecs 71
for the priests. Smaller mounds still unexplored extend south-
wards, until another great enclosure is reached, in this case sur-
rounded by masonry dwellings. Rooms with pilastered por-
ches open on inner patios. There are no two-storey buildings,
but by means of platforms some apartments are raised higher
than others.
A river makes a natural terminus at the south, but across it
lies a magnificent platform, the walls of which are faced with
carved stone blocks; but the crowning temple has disappeared.
* The feathered serpent is the dominant decorative motive, and
great heads carved in rugged simplicity project from the balu-
Sstrade and from the facades. These were originally painted,
and some still glare at the onlookers through eyes of burnished
obsidian. Along the facade the serpent heads alternate with
those of a strange being, who may be Tlaloc, the Rain God.
On the wall behind them the undulating bodies of the snakes
are carved in low relief, and sea-shells, all Caribbean varieties,
are used to fill the spaces left by the curves of the bodies. The
effect is massive and awesome.Though lacking the sinuous
grace of Maya relief, the decorative scheme, none the less, is
that of an achieved art. There was no fumbling in this work of
many craftsmen, labouring through the years, cutting stone
with stone. This building, called by modem investigators the
Temple of Quetacoal, Feathered Serpent, the God of Learn-
ing, is splendid enough to qualify as the edifice for which Mid
was renowned. The ancient name, Temple of the Frog, may
have arisfenr-ro-he symbolic association of frogs with Tlaloc,
the God of Rain. (See Plate 23.)
Once the city was completed in all its mighty scope, a
transformation took place. From the Pyramid of the Moon at
the north, to the Temple of Quetzalcoat, every single build-
ing was rebuilt. Rooms were filled in and facades covered up
to form platforms for new temples. Not even the gigantic
hulks of the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon escaped the addi-
tion of new stairs and facades. The Temple of Quetzalcoat, as

72 Aztecs of Mexico
was fitting, received the most extreme alteration. The original
shrine became the core of a high platform which dominated a
huge enclosure, surrounded by a broad rampart. This wall sup-
ported four lesser platforms on each of three sides, and on the
eastern wall behind the main structure three such temple
The later building is less massive than the earlier. There is
less use of hewn stone, and rubble is extensively employed.
Algtough the reconstruction extended eventually to rebuild-
ing the whole sacred area, no violent shift in the styles of pot-
tery or figurines suggests conquest by new tribes. The new
architecture hasallthe-emamarksofa religious reformation
which-AtroyedLthe symbolism of one cult to _ueft a new.
Moreover, in one sector of the city the filling between the late
and the early pavements produced much burned material,
such as charcoal, adobe, pottery and the like, as if the debris
from incendiary fires had been utilized for foundation material.
The events recounted in the annals seem to reflect this archi-
tectural change, and possibly the new religion of Huitzilopo-
chtli and Tezcatlipoca replaced the old cult of Quetzalcoatl
and Tlaloc. Certainly the levies of man power, time and mater-
A ials sufficient to achieve the rebuilding of Teotihuacan would
Shave been enough to bring about serious popular disorders.
People continue to live, though their religion change and
their kingdoms perish. Their basic techniques for maintaining
life persist likewise. Therefore, tools and pottery give a more
continuous guide to tribal history than thbp n hn nfrha c or
the soaring bulk of religions architecrtnre. The material culture
of Teotihuacan is an important index to the history of the
early Toltecs. The contrast between artirlep fnr hniehold se
/and for ritual became slarper as the Teotihuacan culture
reached its full developmenJThe rhythms of change in differ-
ent types of activity do not always synchronize, and in the
Teotihuacan culture we distinguish two building periods, three
ceramic phases and five successive styles in clay figurines.

Teotihuacan and the Classical Toltecs 73
The beginnings of Teotihuacan culture are revealed by the
contents of the adobes in the Pyramid of the Sun. The pottery
fragments and figurines show an amalgamation of four culture
strains, one deriving from the Upper Middle Culture, another
containing the germs of the later Teotihuacan periods, a third
tying in with the tribes of western Mexico and a fourth of
unknown provenience. The little clay figures are hand-made
and closely affiliated with Up er Middle Culture types. The
early Teotihuacanos developed a new kind of idol mad of
crudely incised sto-nc. combination of three-coloured pot-
tery, lie that o Ticoman, with a lost-colour process, resulted
in a four-colour polychrome which was highly characteristic.
Clay earplugs were as common at Teotihuacan as at the Middle
Culture sites. While the early Teotihuacanos did not make, style
for style and piece for piece, implements identical with those
of their contemporaries at Ticoman or Cuicuilco or Gualupita,
their material culture comprised specific elements drawn from
each particular site. The early Teotihuacanos took part in the
same Upper Middle Culture migration (9). (See Plate 21.)
When the Teotihuacanos began their first big building opera-
tions their handiwork had become more conventionalized and
more stylistically unified. Polychrome pottery gave way to
impe f brown or vasesand large ar
painted in red on yellow. A flourisliHig trade sprang up in the
importation of a thin orange ware that attains at times almost
an eggshell delicacy. For use in their religious rites the Teo-
tihuacanos constructed cylindrical wares of black or brown
which they carved in ritualistic patterns, utilizing such techni-
ques as simple incision, champlev6 and, very rarely, intaglio
Their stone and bone-toolsere not capable of much ela-
boration. However, since abundant deposits of obsidian were
close at hand, the Teotihuacanos used this material lavishly,
flaking blades to a scalpel-like narrowness and chipping tools
of every variety. They made little animals of this hard and

74 Aztecs of Mexico
brittle substance, and ground it to mirror-like smoothness to
make eyes for their great stone idols. In addition they used lava,
not only pecking out great blocks for facing their buildings,
but also carving designs and creating a sculpture. The great step
V taken b the Teotihucan[Tolte fnr
ous art. Clay figurines which carried the main trend of artistic
de-elopment in the Middle Cultures became conventionalized
into simple little figures of men and women whose faces were
reduced to their bare anatomical essentials. Women were
shown dressed in huipiles and enaguas, men in the maxtli or
breech-clout. The sculptors painted the faces and the costumes
of both male and female figures. The growth of ritualistic de-
finition may also be seen in representations of the Old God, of
a god in a human skin, later known as Xipe 2 (Our Lord the
Flayed One), and in composite figures, having attributes of
men and animals among which the jaguar predominated (I ).
S Their mastery of stone sculpture was most evident at the
STemple of Quetzalcoatl, where able presentation was sub-
ordinated to the decorative demands of architectural orna-
-4ment. To make incense-burners, the sculptors embodied the
idea of the Old God seated under his bowl. Other artists traded
for jade and porphyry and wrought these hard substances into
beautiful masks and figures, which stand out as masterpieces of
Middle American sculpture. Much of the work in stone has
disappeared, smashed by the Spanish priests or broken into
building-stones, but two colossal examples still survive. One is
the ten-foot statue of the so-called QGodess of the Waters, now
in the National Museum. Jade ornaments, huipil, enagua, san-
dals, every detail is set forth, not as graceful accents to a suave
naturalism but as the ornament to an architectural creation.
This goddess is a monument, a sort of monolithic building,
that symbolizes the implacable force of Nature. The other
statue was never finished. It lies still anchored to its matrix of
living rock in a ravine near Texcoco.3 Larger by far than the
I. mahsh'-tdy. 2. Shee'-pay. 3. Tess'-co-co.

Teotihuacan and the Classical Toltecs 75
Goddess of the Waters, battered by the elements, the deity of
Coatlinchan I cannot fail to impress the modem visitor. Its
concept is grandiose,-ut the engineering skill was lacking to
cut theculpture free of its base. Prometheus in his chains may
symbolize the-tragedy of European thought, but to me this
goddess, still an integral part of the land that made her, repre-
sents the paralysis of Indian civilization. (See Plate 24, top
Painting and drawing found an outlet in the requirements of
ritual (12). The frescoes of the Temple of Agriculture show an
appreciation of decorative design combined with a sense of
natural values. One fresco which has now disappeared but
which fortunately was copied at the time of discovery depicts
a ceremony before two divinities like the Goddess of theWaters
and confirms Ixtlilxochitl's description of the Toltec costume.
Carved vases present in full ritualistic detail the attributes of
tiger gods and other divinities, and little definitive symbols in-
dicate that some sort of writing was in priestly use. Unfortun-
ately no sacred books have survived. (See Plates 24, bottom;
58, top.)
A ceremonial centre like Teotihuacan must have exempli-
fied the best work of which a culture was capable. The civil
centres have been little explored. In the neighbourhood of
Teotihuacan, some few miles from the sacred city, great com-
munal dwellings were built, embracing fifty and sixty rooms
set about patios connected by passage-ways. The rooms were
made of adobe and rubble-work covered with plaster, and
supported a life of comfort and security. There was also an al-
tar prominently placed, for religious duty was not confined to
the ceremonial zone (13).
Another huge settlement lay across the lake at Azcapotzalco.
Here the land is tremendously fertile, so that the old buildings
have been razed to level the fields for present-day agriculture.
Modem excavations to get the clay used in brick and tile
I. Co-at-lin-chan'.

76 Aztecs of Mexico
have yielded a rich stream of objects, and a few days' digging
produces hundreds of specimens. Thus we may judge of the
abundance of life in Toltec times from the quantity of human
At Azcapotzalco and at Xolalpan,l near Teotihuacan,
hundreds of skeletons were buried under the floors of the
houses. Adults were usually seated, and the quantity of pot-
tery vessels accompanying them suggests the richness of the
economy. At Azcapotzalco sometimes the people had great
feasts, and after partaking they cast their dishes into pits pre-
pared for the purpose. Since clay idols were thrown in likewise,
we may be sure that these festivals were religious in character.
Once we found a great red-and-yellow bowl in such a deposit.
It contained the remnants of the piece de resistance, the upper
legs and hips of a human being, the most succulent portions
for festive consumption. There is also other evidence of hu-
man sacrifice. At the Temple of uetzalcoatl individuals were
buried under the corners as foundation deposits. At both Teo-
tihuacan and Azcapotzalco shallow dishes, cut from the top of
skulls, testify to other rituals involving sacrifice and death.
The Toltec dominrn hA it' ,drlept etn t r rhi-
tectural and second ceranri peri. Confirming the statement
of the annals, remains are found in the Valley of Toluca, in
Morelos, and most abundantly in Puebla. At Cholula the Tol-
tecs constructed a whole temple site of enormous extent, which
later peoples covered with the single great pyramid so re-
nowned for its size. This Toltec site has produced no carving,
but one temple had a fresco decoration portraying the Butter-
fly God, a mythological being important to Teotihuacan
religion (14).
The third phase of Teotihuacan consisted of a tremendous
reconstruction of the city, followed-by a decline in the arts.
The architectural activity evoked no corresponding elabora-
tion in stonework or ceramic techniques, save in one respect,
I. Sho-lal'-pan.

Teotihuacan and the Classical Toltecs 77
the clay figurines. The idols of this period represent some of
the finiestmodelling ever achieved in Mexico. The faces were
so carefully consttrcted&that some students have considered (
them portraits. At first handmade, later they were copied in
moulds and retouched to bring them to a detailed perfection.
Finally, like the other arts and crafts, the portrait style de-
generated, to be replaced by mould-made heads of coarser
workmanship. At this time, the fourth figurine period, Teo-
tihuacan ceased to function as a sacred capital.
Ixtlilxochid has related that religious conflict revolt and
crop failure contributed to the downfallnof Totihuacan. To
some extent we can corroborate this statement from archae- /
logical interpretations. The architectural change has the ap-
pearance of having been made simultaneously, in contrast to
the gradual development of the original city. Teotihuacan was
built over hastily with the maximum use of original construc-
tion. The abrupt change in figurine styles suggests that a new
god was honoured by this new presentation. The drain on
human resources, implicit in such large-scale construction,
would lead readily to revolt under the strain.
Crop failure could have resulted from deforestation and the
consequent drying up of streams. At Teotihuacan lime cement
covered all the buildings and formed the entire paving. The
modern Maya Indians burn ten times as much wood as the
quantity of limestone to be reduced, and they have the advan-
tage of steel axes (15).It is not too fanciful, therefore, to assume
that the Toltec masons, lacking metal of any kind, found it
easier to use hearths of charcoal, obtained by burning over the
forest, than to try to obtain the requisite fuel by chopping out
their logs with stone axes. If this interpretation is correct, the
hills must have been widely denuded of timber, with a conse-
quent drying up of streams and erosion of fields. Furthermore,
the barren aspect of the hills of Teotihuacan to-day must be due
to something more than the requirements for fuel and timber
of the post-Conquest po pdition. The Toltecs and their



Maceguales (created by
Quinames (Giants)
Nomad Chichimec
Acolhua I Tlailtoque
Acolhua II Texcoco
7 Tribes
Culhua Culhua

aa~U~A UC
- -
~qg aai~qoC

a Phillips, Codex Ramirez, 1883, 618-19, 622-4.
b Ixtlilxochiti, Relaciones, 1891, 17-21, 75-103.
c Ixtlilxochitl, Historia Chichimeca, 1892, 21-45, 6i-5, 69-71.
d Veytia, Historia Antigua, 1836, Vol. I, 139-56; Vol. 2, 3-10, 39-46, 87-loi.
e Duran, Historia de las Indias, I, 1867, 10-14.
f Mufioz Camargo, Historia, 1892, 5-II6.
g Clavigero, History, 1787, 93-136.
h Sahagun, Historia General, 1938, Vol. 4, Book II, 106, 116-17, 138-47.
I de Jonghe, ed., Histoire de Michique, 1903, 8-20.
J Aubin, Peinture Didactique, 1885, 58-74.
k Aubin, Peinture Didactique, 1885, 75-85.
I Radin, Sources, 1920, 41-5.
mMotolinia, Historia, 1914, 3-5.
n Origen in Garcia Icazbalceta, 1886-92, Vol. 3, Origen de los Mexicanos,


Manufacture of materials inside adobes of Temples of Sun and Moon.

Eastern Lineage

Western Lineage


Construction of first-period buildings at Teotihuacan, culminating
in the Temple of Quetzalcoat under Mid; establishment of centre at
Azcapotzalco (El Corral I); wide distribution of culture to Cholula,

Eastern Lineage

718-70 Huetzin
770-829 Totepeuh (?)

Construction of second-period buildings; introduction of mould;
complex ritual in figurines; trade with Mayas; introduction of new
religion; abandonment of Teotihuacan; incursion of Chichimecs.

Eastern Lineage
Queen Xihuiquenitzin

Western Lineage




Shift of Toltec centre to Azcapotzalco, possibly under Topiltzin;
great ritualistic development of figurines; influence from Oaxaca;
new religion and destruction by Culhuas.
Eastern Lineage Western Lineage

Nauhyotzin I


Western Lineage


80 Aztecs of Mexico
successors, Chichimecs, Acolhuas and Aztecs, undoubtedly
contributed their fair share to this wastage of the forests.
Tradition ascribes the abandonment of Teotihuacan to the
tenth and eleventh centuries, whateverthebasic causes. How-
. ever, Teotihuacanos still occupied the outlying villages, and
across the lakes the enormous city of Azcapotzalco continued
to flourish. Teotihuacan, however, was a city ofghosts. In Chi-
chimec times the makers of the Mazapan 1 culture occasionally
crept on to the ruins to bury their dead, but they never dis-
turbed the silence by building houses in the zone. A persistent
tradition describes the great Aztec ruler Montezuma as visit-
ing Teotihuacanto make sacrifices, but no evidence exists in the
shape of ceremonial equipment left behind (16). The three or
four Aztec potsherds found among the hundreds of thousands
of Teotihuacanfaagments certainly cannot be testimony to the
pomp and ceremony of Aztec worship.
Azcapotzalco was an enormous city, where dwelt a large
population. The decline of Teotihuacan and the gradual aban-
donment of the eastern towns must have added substantially to
its numbers. Its people did not follow the architectural prac-
tices of earlier times and have left no great monuments. It
originally seems to have been founded at the time of the first
great building period at Teotihuacan, because the same hand-
made figurines and pottery styles exist at both sites. However,
the religious reformation at Teotihuacan suggested by the re-
building of the city and the making of the 'portrait' type of
figurines left no trace at Azcapotzalco. No true 'portrait' heads
occur among the thousands of figurines found in the western
A fully-developed mould-made figurine cult replaced the
older hand-made techniques, but this practicewasahbstifrom
Teotihuacan. Just as Byzantium for centuries carried on the
tradition of Rome after the barbarians had sacked the parent
city, so, on a smaller scale, Azcapotzalco maintained the older
i. Ma-zah'-pan.

Teotihuacan and the Classical Toltecs 81
tradition of Teotihuacan. Yet the figurine cult was carried to an
extreme development. The introduction of the mould led to
mass production of images by skilled workmen. Thus the de-
tails of dress and ornament, which defined the gods represented,
could be rigidly fixed. Each household could be equipped in
miniature with the outward elements of a ritual previously
confined to special centres. Elaborate incense-burners studded
with moulded decorations reproduced the main temple altars
with their ritualistic ornament. The origin of this practice may
well have been in Oaxaca among the Zapotecs, who not only
made elaborate incense-burners of this type, but, since frag-
ments of Oaxaca wares are found in Toltec sites, also shipped
pottery to be traded to these northern people (17).
This archaeological situation clears up a discrepancy in the
annals that has made modern scholars tear their beards. The
Annals of Cuauhtitlan recorded a list of Toltec rulers that only
partially in name and not at all in date corresponds to Ixtlilxo-
chitl's list of the rulers of Teotihuacan (Table V). It would
seem highly probable that the lineageof Cuauhtitlan referred to
the chiefs of this western settlement which endured after the
parent site had been abandoned. The Azcapotzalco region was
protected by the lakes from invaders on the east. There was no
such tax on the population as at Teotihuacan, where the people
had to carry out a religious reformation in architectural terms.
Therefore, the pressures from within and without, which
caused Teotihuacan to crumble were not manifested in the
west until over a century later.
Civil war, religious strife and the yielding of the Quetzal-
coat cult to that of Tezcatlipoca contributed to the downfall of
the western Toltecs at the cose of the twelfth century. A large
cluster of baby burials at El Corral, Azcapotzalco, suggests
that starvation with a resultant stepping up of infant mortality
may have played its part as well. Yet the conquerors of the
western Valley were the first to take the name of the con-
quered and aggrandize their lineage by the assumption of great

82 Aztecs of Mexico
age. Toltec arts and crafts disappeared, and their styles had no
continuation in the work of the later people. But the name
continued, and so did that old, old cult of making images,
though the idols were now in honour of a religion with a new
personnel of gods.
The Toltec era, the classical period of the builders feo.tei-
huacan saw the full emergence f a cfiliza-
tion. Theculturvas unified and seems to have been diffused
by an increasing population. In the emphasis on ritual and the
direction of technical skill towards the requirements of worship
this frontier civilization recapitulated the culture history of
Middle America.

In which are set forth the complex events, political, social and cultural, which
led up to the formation of Aztec civilization

THE classic era of the Teotihuacan Toltecs was an age of cul-
tural unity.'The people of Central Mexico made the same
things, lived the same way and worshipped the same gods for
centuries. Dissolution set in as famine, religious disagreements
and the incursions of strange peoples corroded the structure of
Teotihuacan civilization.)
Uhe succeeding era in Mexican history, 1100oo-1300oo, was a
chaotic one which eventually resulted in that mixture of cul-
tural unity and political independence which we know as the
Aztec civilization)A tempting analogy is to compare the Chit
chimec Period to the European colonization of North Ameri-
ca, where groups of many conditions and sorts struggled to
populate the land and eventually incorporated the sum total of
their experience into the North American republic. (See Plate
(PReligions and social systems and peoples competed for
domination of the Valley.)Several of the powerful tribes at the
time of the Conquest had their origin in this era of confusion,
and from their tribal annals we may extract a fairly clear pic-
ture of what went on. As each tribe recorded its own affairs
with relatively little attention to those of its neighbours, cross
references are rare. History, in our modem sense of utilizing
past trends to chart the present and the future, did not exist in
the intellectual structure of ancient Mexico, and the traditions
of the successive tribal immigrations are in confusing dis-
agreement (Table IV, p. 78).
The histories of five towns summarize this period: Culhua-

84 Aztecs of Mexico
can,' Texcoco, Azcapotzalco, Cholula2 and Tenochtitlan
(Table VI, p. 95-6). According to the Annals ofCuauhtitlan,4 a
long, confused record referring to Culhuacan, Tenochtitlan and
7 the polificallyinsigiicant Cuauhtitlan, the Culhuas conquered
the Toltecs and lived for a time at their ancient capital Tula.
The location of this Toltec capital is not clearly stated, but it
was on the west side of the lake and may have been either the
late Toltec site of Azcapotzalco or the modern Tula, which
has some late Toltec remains, but presents more evidence of a
heavy Mazapan occupation (i).
The Culhuas later withdrew southwards to Culhuacan,
where they established a lineage of chiefs, the length of whose
reigns they carefully recorded in their annals. In the middle of
the thirteenth century a new dynasty came in which the his-
torians called \Chichimec'; it replaced the older line which
they called 'Toltec. References were made to struggles with
other tribes, chiefly at the northern end of the lakes, but there
was trouble with the southern towns as well (Table VI, p. 95-6).
At the end of the fourteenth century civil war broke out and
people deserted Culhuacan, which became weak and a shadow
of its former self. The rise of a new power, the Tepanec, who
had as allies the vigorous but ill-established Tenochcas,5 con-
tributed to its downfall. Yet before Culhuacan succumbed
completely to vassalage under the new order, members of its
reigning house had twice been sought to found the lineage of
Tenochtitlan. '
On the d taDyevidences Culhuacan was an extremely
important city-state. The consecutive reigns of its chiefs
stretched from the time of the fall of the western Toltec Em-
pire to that of the rise of the important Aztec state of Tenoch-
titlan.(Culhuacan was considered a centre of civilization,
and for three centuries was a major Power in the Valley of
Mexico. 'Yet a visit to the modem town discloses no lofty re-

I. Cool-wah-can'.
2. Cho-loo'-la.

3. Te-notch'-ti-tlan.
4. Kwow-ti-tlan'.

5. Te-notch'-cas.

The Chichimec Period and the Dynastic Toltecs 85
mains, for the ancient city is completely razed. Only the tem-
ple on the Hill of the Star, which rises behind the town and
dominates te lakes, is a memorial to its pst splendour. For
here took even after the Culhuas had lost their power,
the New Fire Ceremony which ushered in each new cycle of
fifty-two years and epitomized the spirit of Aztec religion.
(Texcoco on the eastern shore of the lakes of Mexico, was the
mostjcir fed town in the Valley of Mexico at the time of the
Conquest Ixtlilxochitl, a descendant of the ruling house, had
access to the annalif his people and left a full history, dis-
torted though it was by his wish to make his lineage rival the ,
noble lines of Castile; but he had a strong historical sense,;
doubtless absorbed from the Spanish priests who educated
him. His ancestors were a nomadic group which lived mainly
by hunting and eventually, under a chief named Xolotl,x oc-
cupied the territory around Teotihuacan. They pushed west to
Tenayuca 2 and in the process learned agriculture and assumed
a sedentary life. While there, they met other tribes of varying
degrees of culture and assumed the practice of choosing a chief
from a special lineage instead of electing him directly from the
clan leaders (2).
About 1300 two brothers were in line for succession to the
chieftainship, and one Tlotzin, who was not selected, moved
back to Texcoco and headed his own line. When he died and
his son Quinatzin3took the throne two tribes moved into his
territory from the Mixteca area in northern Oaxaca and south-
ern Puebla. They brought with them the worship of the god
Tezcatlipoca, the art of writing and many other useful skills.
So completely did these people transform life at Texcoco that
the picture manuscripts portrayed the local population clad in
skins and the immigrants in woven clothing to emphasize the
contrast between their own culture and the superior talents of
the newcomers. Quinatzin, who was an extraordinarily com-
petent ruler, extended his dominions greatly by conquering
I. Sho'lottle. 2. Te-nah-yoo'-ca. 3. Kee-nat-seen'.

86 Aztecs of Mexico
many adjacent communities. The idea of absorbing conquered
towns into the victorious state, so obvious to a modern mem-
ber of western civilization, had not yet occurred to the Mexi-
cans. Instead, defeated towns retained their local autonomy;
but they paid a yearly tribute and their chiefs had to make a
state visit to acknowledge their fealty to the conqueror. Quin-
atzin had some seventy towns as fiefs, and his dominion pro-
jected down to the shore of Vera Cruz. His successor, Techot-
ala, succeeded in unifying the Valley dialects into one lan-
guage. Aztec.
Texcoco and Culhuacan never came into direct conflict, for
they were situated at opposite ends of the Lake of Mexico.
There is evidence, too, that the Valley was not completely set-
tled, for m the mid-thirteenth century the Tenochca were able
to thread their way south to Chapultcpec without coming
into serious conflict with the settled populations (3).
However, in the mid-fourteenth century there was serious
conflict. A tribe calledthe Tepanec, which lived at Azcapot-
-4alco, outgrew its bodunaries. Led by an able and vicious chief,
Tezozomoc,2 it began to extend its territories. Culhuacan felt
the pressure first, and internal discord developed, as it must
when a nation cannot feed itself and has no room to expand.
Some of the Culhuas moved up to Texcoco along the eastern
shore and added their long-practised skills to those of the Tex-
cocan community. The Tepanec, blocked to the south by dense
populations and to the west by high mountain walls, turned
north and east to raid and occupy Texcocan lands. Otomi 3
tribes, whose territory lay on the islands and the eastern shore
of Lake Xaltocan, were pinched between the opposing forces,
who would brook/no neutrality. They moved north, and the
two great Power Tepanecs and Texcocans, came into direct
contact and war ensued. Tewzozomoc won a signal victory,
broke Texcoco and alienated hr vssais. Hfquickly domina-
ted the rest of the Valley towns, almost obliterating the empty
I. Cha-pool'-tepec. 2. Te-zoz'-o-moc. 3. Ot-o-mee'.

The Chichimec Period and the Dynastic Toltecs 87
shell of Culhuacan's former dominance. His son Maxta suc-
ceeded this vigorous and ruthless conqueror in 1427. Having
the northern Valley at his feet, he oppressed the conquered and
interfered in the affairs of former allies like Tenochtitlan.
Yet he was to enjoy his conquests only a bare two years (4).
Indi governmental practice extracted tribute from con-
quered tribes, but had not developed a technique for forcing
payment without declaring a new war and making a fresh
campaign. Consequently a bond of sympathy forged from
mutually shared ill-fortune grew up between otherwise some-
what hostile communities.LTenochtitlan and Tlacopan," towns
at the backdoor of Tepanec territory, made a pact with Tex-
coco across the lake; and the allies, rising suddenly, overthrew
the new power)Maxtlwasslain,his city burned and, contrary
to the practice of the time, his people incorporated into the
allied tribes. Land was apportioned to warriors who had per-
formed notable feats of valour. So completely did the allies
break the Tepanecs, that all that remains of their history is the
memory ofTezozomoc and Maxtla and some petty local chief-
tains who succeeded them.
The Texcocans regained their prestige after this war, but the
Tenochcas, who had begun as mere vassals, grew so rapidly in
strength that at the coming of the Spaniards they had man-
aged to eclipse their former lords, as we shall see in the fol-
lowing chapter.
These events disclose a picture of expanding populations
and ensuing intertribal conflict. This cultural history shows a
diffuse background of tribal arts and practices gradually welded
into a closely similar whole,(Aztec civilization. The process
was achieved before Tenochtitlan attained eminence, so at the
cost of academic tediousness the term Aztec has been reserved
for the civilization, Tenochca for the people who so con-'
spicuously made it known.)
The civilization of Teotihuacan disappeared before the in-
r. Mash'-la. 2. Tla-co'-pan.

88 Aztecs of Mexico
filtration of intruding tribes. The nomadic groups referred to
in the chronicles have left no identifiable remains. Hunters re-
duced to the bare necessities which they can carry on their
back do not leave much trace of their presence. Other immi-
grants came from established communities and, after founding
their settlements, resumed building houses and making pot-
tery, thus reverting to their normal life as sedentary Mexican
villagers. There were two well-defined cultures of this type
which are called Mazapaan d.Coyoatlaeco, after the sites
where their remains werefirst discovered. What temples and
towns the makers of these cultures constructed have disappeared
during architectural revamping in the Aztec period, so that we
have to rely on pottery and other imperishable equipment to
find out their tribal connections and their significance for the
history of man in Mexico (5)-
Th azapan culture was definitely later than Teotihuacan,
for its graves penetrated-throug-l eotihuacan floors and its
refuse overlay deposits of Teotihuacan discard. These remains
were strongly concentrated at the north-west of the Valley of
Mexico, but extended to the west as well. While in general
they seem to have been associated with villages, refuse-heaps
did occur at the ceremonial site of Tula. In the modern town
of that name stone sculptures in a distinctive style, neither
Teotihuacan nor Aztec, may, by the process of elimination, be
assigned to these people. The lavish equipment of their burials
suggests that the Mazapan folk were prosperous and wll-to-
do. At Chiconauhtla,2 a frontier town subject to Texcoco, the
population, originally Mazapan in cultural affiliation, shifted to
Aztec styles with no transition. (See Plate 25.)
The pottery of these people falls into three main types suffi-
ciently distinctive to suggest that three independent groups
were united. One ware comprises deep hemispherical bowls
with decorations made in wavy parallel lines as if by a comb.
Allied are other bowls with vaguely outlined maroon designs.
i. Coy-o-tlah-tell'-co. 2. Chee-co-now'-tla.

The Chichimec Period and the Dynastic Toltecs 89
A second ware is used for heavy bowls with tripod support
and floors scored for use in grinding pepper. A third consists
of bowls with flat floors and slipped in distinctive colours of
white or orange. Such vessels were traded to Puebla, to the
slopes of the volcanoes and to other areas bordering on the
In return the Mazapan peoples received pottery from distant
sources. From Puebla and Vera Cruz they acquired a popular
fine orange ware that was commonly traded to Chichen Itza
in Yucatan, to Guatemala, and even as far south as Salvador.
They had also the distinctivepseudo-vitreous ware called plum-
bate, which had a wide orbit of commercial distribution, cen-
tring in Salvador and Guatemala, but reaching south to Pana-
ma and cast to Vera Cruz, west to Tepic and north to Tula.
This ware is never found in classical Maya centres, but appears
in the later sites. In the Valley of Mexico it never reached the
Teotihuacan Toltec, and its distribution ceased in Aztec times.
Wares decorated in plaster cloisomnn were also esteemed by
the Mazapeiios, and a few examples appear far from their chief
source of manufacture in northern Jalisco (6). (See Plates 26,
top; 27.)
The Mazapan people made or acquired by trade beautiful
spindle whorls with lustrous slips and stamped designs. Their
obsidian work was excellent, and the scalpels flaked offby pres-
sure were the finest in Mexico. Figurines were mould-made,
but poorly fashioned, a mother god and a warrior god presag-
ing the Tonantzin 2 and Tezcatlipoca of the Aztec period.
They worshipped also the flayed god Xipe, who wears a hu-
man skin, and in his honour they broke through the lowly
limitations of their clay sculpture to make two life-size repre-
sentations of him, monumental examples of the potter's art. A
smaller figure, carrying in his hand a little vase of Zapotec
type, was prepared with closer detail. Thus archaeological evi-
dence confirms the traditional origin of Xipe-worship in
I. Chi-chen' Eet-za'. 2. To-nan-tseen'.

90 Aztecs of Mexico
Oaxaca, territory of the Zapotecs and Mixtecs. (See Plate
This Mazapan-.ulurc was cosmopolitan, and was in touch
with the products of all civilized Middle America. Its basic
wares indicate a western origin. The suggestion of fused tribal
elements in the pottery hints at the tribal amalgamations men-
tioned in Ixtlilxochitl's accounts of the history of the Chichi-
mecs of Texcoco. Thus archaeological evidence corroborates
the native histories, assigning this period to the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries, when Mexican influence spread south to
the territories of the Zapotecs and Mayas.
SThe Coyotlatl culture is confied chiefly to the western
hs,2o .the..Lake of Mexico. Excavators have not had the
luck to find clearly demarcated sites. It may well be old in
origin, for fragments of simple vessels have been found at
Tenayuca, underlying fully-developed Coyotlatelco ware; and
similar fragments occur in Mazapan territory prior to that
occupation. A collection in the American Museum of Natural
History from somewhere near Tula suggests a cross-fertiliza-
tion of thisearlyware with decadent Teotihuacan elements, re-
sulting in a potential prototype of the full Coyotlatelco style.
The developed ware comprises bowls with well-executed
patterns in red, which reveal mastery of design (7).
The chronological position is a little uncertain. Beds of un-
mixed Coyotlatelco debris occur at Azcapotzalco and on the
Hill of the Star, behind Culhuacan. Dr Tozzer, who named the
ware, found it mixed with late Teotihuacan material at the
type site, but my wife and I excavated a Teotihuacan site of
the same period without finding a single sherd among the
200oo,ooo fragments we examined. At one or two places west of
Tenayuca, Coyotlatelco sherds have appeared with Mazapan
material. Mr Noguera found the extreme limit in lateness at
Tenayuca, where Coyotlatelco and Aztec II fragments were
mixed. The geographical and chronological associations of this
ware suggest that the makers were Culhuas or Tepanecs.

The Chichimec Period and the Dynastic Toltecs 91
Culhuacan, so important in the annals as the seat of a famous
line of chiefs, shows to-day little sign of its past greatness. Yet
excavations undertaken twenty-five years ago prove that its
historical importance was not over-estimated, for it seems to
have been the base from which Aztec culture spread over the
Valley. Pottery, so dismal to read about, so important in re-
flecting tribal patterns, tells the story of this process (8).
Aztec pottery is found everywhere in the Valley of Mexico,
and, owing to the Aztec custom of destroying household goods ,/
at the end of each fifty-two-year cycle, it can be identified in
terms of relatively exact periods: IV, 1507-19 (the date of the
Spanish Conquest, which prevented the cyclical celebration of
1559); IIIb, 1455-1507; IIIa, 1403-55; II early and late, per-
haps a century prior to 1403, and I. Periods III and IV are repre-
sented everywhere. Period II is common on the mainland, but
less so in Tenochtitlan, which was politically insignificant un-
til after 14oo. To date, Period I is represented in quantity only
at Culhuacan. The standard ware of Periods II-IV goes
through a consecutive evolution, but has a close generic re-
semblance throughout, while Period I pottery is much closer
to the fine orange wares of Puebla which were traded widely
throughout south-eastern Mexico. There is also a trade con-
nection between Aztec I and Mazapan (9). (See Plates 25, 29.)
In the history of Culhuacan digested on pp. 83-85 the fact
was noted that there was first a Toltecdynasty, which was suc-
ceeded by a Chichimec or foreign regime. It may not be
stretching the manipulations of the historian too far if we sug-
gest that the Culhuas changed their culture with their dynasty.
Coyotlatelctreramics, which have vague affiliations with Teo-
tihuacan pottery, may represent the material culture of the
Toltec dynasty, while the Aztec I pottery, completely alien to
the preceding styles, seems to embody the material presence of
the new regime.
Seeming confirmation of this situation comes from the site
of Tenayuca, where great Mexican archaeologists, like the late

92 Aztecs of Mexico
Jose Reygadas Vertiz, Ignacio Marquina, Alfonso Caso, Edu-
ardo Noguera, and others, have carried out a superb dissection
of one of the temples. It was completely rebuilt five, or poss-
ibly six, times. The renovation answered the ceremonial re-
quirement of rebuilding and refurnishing at the beginning of
each fifty-two-year cycle in compensation for the destruction
at the close of the previously elapsed period. As the site was
occupied during the Conquest, the reconstructions probably
followed the cyclical ceremonies of 1507, 1455, 1403, 1351 and
1299, with the first building erected some time earlier. The
fourth, fifth and sixth constructions (1403, 1455, 1507) are
purely Aztec; the third temple built (1351) is a transition be-
tween the Aztec style and the simpler, more archaic methods
employed in the two earliest structures (1299 and the original
temple). The three completely developed Aztec temples corres-
pond closely to the distribution of Aztec III and IV pottery,
between 1403 and 1519. The transitional temple and the sec-
ond building suggest that cyclical renovations were adopted
everywhere along with the Aztec II pottery of the fourteenth
century. The original platform of this Tenayuca temple could
have been constructed almost any time in the thirteenth cen-
tury, since the building of a shrine did not entail the celebration
of the beginning of a fifty-two-year cycle (io). (See Plates 25;
26, bottom; 29.)
,The Aztec civilization was brought into the valley at Cul-
huacan, where it graduaiy-sup-pated the defined local cul-
tures. Where, then, wals-i-sne-s rce ? The most probable
answer is ChDl la in the state of Puebla, where still exists the
Largest structure in the world in terms of cubic content. The
Devoted group of Mexican archaeologists, whose co-ordinated
54 efforts have organized the rich background of their Indian
past, have been analysing this monument by excavation and
Archival research for many years. The results are important.
(See Plate 26, top, middle.)
Originally Cholula was occupied by an Upper Middle Cul-

The Chichimec Period and the Dynastic Toltecs 93
ture tribe which later fell under the domination of Teotihua-
can-Toltec civilization. PAdistime the inhabitants built a large
ceremonial precinct, a maze of temples, platforms and stairs,
constructed of rubble covered with plaster. Eventually new-
comers, possibly with the aid of the resident population, per-
formed the stupendous task of converting the Toltec precinct
into a single great platform, traditionally in honour of the god
Quetzalcoatl. This mammoth construction entailed filling in
every building and courtyard with adobe bricks. On its top
they erected altars and quarters for the ceremonial personnel.
In one of the altars, Altar de los Craneos, they buried two
people and made a mortuary offering of pottery vessels, some
of which resemble Aztec I in many respects, while others show
affiliation with Mazapan types (I ).
Later on the Cholulans gave up these forms for ornate cre-
ations in polychrome, in which pure design and ritualistic de-
coration were elaborated to an extraordinary degree. The skill
of workmanship, the proliferation of ritual and the quantity of
production from Puebla and the south surpass the work of the
Valley tribes even though the content is the same. Therefore,
it seems reasonable to assume that in Pueba lay thesource an
inspiration of Aztec civilization,
The few annals preserved relate chiefly to this period, and their
pages are filled with the history of Teo-Chichimec and Tol-
tec-Chichimec lineages. Breaking off from their parent com-
munities, groups wandered away to found homes in new terri-
tory. Occasionally they settled in unoccupied lands, but they
usually imposed themselves as a ruling class on some already
established tribe. Often the conquerors called themselves by
the proud name of Toltec, usurping the title of the chief
civilization they destroyed. Thus arose the confusion of the
early annalists, who, without the countercheck of archaeology,
were hard put to distinguish references to the classical Toltec
of Teotihuacan from tales of the warlike interlopers who
assumed the name of the vanquished civilization (12).

94 Aztecs of Mexico
Most of these wandering groups spoke Nauatl, the native
tongue of the Aztecs and of many other peoples in western
Mexico. Some, -e the conquerors of axaca, spoke the unre-
lated Mixtec tongue. Yet, whatever their language, these in-
vaders joined in spreading over southern Mexico, Guatemala,
Salvador, even Nicaragua, such kindred cultural elements as
chiefly lineage, formal war, distinctive gods and characteristic
ceremonial practices, which we classify as Mixteca-Puebla cul-
ture. Other tribes moved north, leaving a strong imprint on
the cultures of Sinaloa in the north-west, and elements of this
religion affected tribal communities as far distant as the south-
eastern United States (13). (See Plates 11-12.)
This movement of people, in contrast to that of their civi-
lized predecessors, was not the process of settling unexploited
Territory. Over-population seems the most logical cause, since
it forces-natioiis t risk the hazards of war rather than submit
to the pangs of slow starvation. The vanquished, whose
people had expanded into unpopulated territory during the pre-
vious epoch, had had no need to develop military techniques,
and so fell easily under Chichimec domination. However, in
view of the intimate relation between government and relig-
ion in ancient Mexican society, such conquest meant the wor-
ship of new gods as well as the acceptance of new chiefs. It is
likely that some tribes adopted the new religion previous to
actual physical contact, so that they could the better resist in-
vasion. Yet the factor of conquest strongly influenced the
spread of Mixteca-Puebla culture by tribesmen of Nahuatl
and Mixtec speech.
War has its advantages when made on the unwarlike. The
thin coating of Western civilization which Europe laid over
the globe has its minor counterpart in the late Mexican in-
fluence spread over Middle America by these restless tribes-
men. The winner's gods must be good gods, so cults of Mexi-
can origin spread through the length and breadth of Middle
America. Just so the Christian religion had a ready acceptance

The Chichimec Period and the Dynastic Toltecs 95
in Indian America when the missionaries were backed by
such redoubtable exponents of our gentle faith as Corts,
Pizarro and their coadjutors.

Eastern Phase: Contact with Toltecs at Tula (Teotihuacan) under
Xolotl; Tenayuca I pottery; rude culture.
Western Phase: Teotihuacan V and western Toltec Empire at Tula
Eastern Phase: Tenayuca occupation by immigrants; replacement of
Toltecs at Tula (Tula); tribal government; foundation of Texcocan
Chichimec lineage in 1232; development of fiefs; introduction of
Mazapan culture.
Western Phase: Destruction of Toltecs at Tula (Azcapotzalco); move-
ment to Culhuacan; foundation of Culhuacan 'Toltec' lineage in
1114; adoption of Coyotlatelco ceramics; first Aztec cycle counted,
1143-95; second Aztec cycle counted, 1195-1247.
Culhuacan Cuauhtitlan Cuitlahuac Texcoco Tenochtitlan
Nauhyot Xolotl
(d. 1124 after 1115-1232
6o years)
Cuauhtexpetlatzin Teiztlacohuatzin
II24-81 II60-x226
Achitometl Quinatzin
1223-37 1226-99

96 Aztecs of Mexico
Eastern Phase: Establishment of Texcoco as Chichimec capital under
Quinatzin in 1298; persistence of Mazapan culture in east; penetra-
tion of Coyotatelco and temple cult to Tenayuca(?).
Western Phase: Foundation of new dynasty at Culhuacan in 1251 ;
introduction of Aztec I pottery at Culhuacan, with Pueblan origins;
construction of Building I at Tenayuca(?); Cholula rebuilt (altar
de los Craneos); Cholula III pottery; Tenochcas at Chapultepec;
third Aztec cycle counted, 1247-99.
Culhuacan Cuauhtitlan Cuitlahuac Texcoco Tenochtitlan
New Lineage Lineage Begins
Mazatzin Nopaltzin
1251-74 1232-63
Quetzaltzin Coatomatzin Tlotzin Huitzilhuitl
1274-87 1282-88 1263-98 1235-98

In which is recorded the history of the Tenochcas and the political
background of Aztec civilization

THE Chichimec period witnessed invasion of the Valley of
Mexico by various tribes and the gradual domination of these
tribes by a culture and manner of life that seems to have eman-
ated from Puebla and northern Oaxaca. qThe basic political
unit consisted ofa tribe resident in a town supporting itself
from its own land with the supplement, if possible, of sup-
plies derived from the tribute payments of vassals. At the head
of the State was a chief of lineage who also performed eccles-
iastical functions. Craftsmanship was highly skilled, and trade
flourished to furnish raw materials for the artisans. This pro-
ductivity, however, was directed towards religion and ritual
rather than the creation of personal wealth. Religion was an
elaborate polytheism based on Nature-worship, with some
god or gods singled out for special adoration, but the working
of the tonalpohualli,' or sacred almanac, brought the full force
of divine powers to aid man in his life on earth. !(See Plate
The history of the Tenochcas, the Mexico City Aztecsjshows
how a tribal body-ived and acquired the position of an im-
portant State. According to their own records, the Tenochcas
started their wanderings in A.D. i68, though this date is ar-
bitrary, and possibly represents the date of the invention of
the calendar system in vogue in Central Mexico (I)(At first they
lived on an island in a lake in western Mexico and crossed in
boats to the shore. In a hillside cave tey found an idol of Huit-
zilopochtli (Hummingbird Wizard), which had the useful
ability to speak and give them good advice. The accounts
i. to-nal-po-wahl'-li.

98 Aztecs of Mexico
differ, and some have the Tenochcas starting off on their tra-
vels with several other tribes from a group of caves in which
they originated. The names of the tribes are seldom the same
in any two annals, but they always refer to important tribal
entities at the time the particular history was inscribed (Table
VII, p. 102-3). These beginnings may be considered as formal-
ized origin myths without historical significance (2). (See Plate
62, top right.)
The Tenochcas carried their new god's image with them on
their journey. At each stopping place they set him up to be
worshipped, and in return he advised them. Their method of
procedure was to stay a year or more at a given place, while
pioneers searched the land for another site and planted a crop
there to harvest when the whole tribe arrived. The list of
stopping places is highly dubious, and the different traditions
disagree. Not until the tribes reached the lakes of Mexico are
the localities mentioned easily identifiable or in common
The Tenochcas entered the lakes from the north-west, via
Tula and Zumpango, sothere may be a basis for believing their
original ~hiie was in Michoacan.' They seem to have made
every effort to avoid fighting, by keeping away from settled
lands. At one place they split up, at another they sacrificed
three individuals, according to the prescribed ritual of opening
up the stomach and tearing out the heart, and at a third place
they learned how to make pulque.
(Their records make little reference to the tribes already in
the Valley, and their own entrance was relatively unnoticed
by the othersHowever, the hieroglyph of Tezozomoc in one
manuscript suggests the obvious conclusion that they had to
,have Tepanec permission to pass through Azcapotzalco and
,settle at Chapultepec, where the beautiful park now is. Here
they remained happily for nearly a generation. Their neigh-
bours seem to have been small but growing communities, so
i. Mich-o-a-can'.

The Aztec Period 99
that conflict was inevitable. The Tenochcas began the strife
because their young men went up the lake to Tenayuca to raid
and steal wives, a common North American Indian method of
gaining prestige. Their more powerful neighbours became irri-
tated and made up a punitive expedition in which Tepanecs,
Culhuas and Xochimilcas took part. The result was horrid;
the Tenochca chief Huitzilhuitl1 and most of the tribe had to
go to Culhuacan territory to dwell in serfdom, while the
rest escaped to the lake, where some low-lying islands offered
refuge. The main body stayed in Tizapan,2 near the present
San Angel, where they were under the eye of Coxcox,3 the
chief of Culhuacan. The Tenochcas detested the waste, which
was barren in all except poisonous snakes and insects. Huitzilo-
pochtli they still enshrined, but his words had sunk so low that
the Culhuas came to mock him at his shrine and toss nameless
filth into the temple (3).
Finally, however, the tide turned. Coxcox became involved
in a war with Xochimilco and called upon his vassals to aid
him. When the Tenochcas reached the field of battle they
rushed to the attack and took no less than thirty prisoners,
from each of whom they detached an ear with their obsidian
knives before sending him to the rear. After the battle Coxcox
made a speech praising the valour of his forces in taking so
many prisoners but denigrating the Tenochcas who came back
empty-handed. The vassals waited until their lord had finished
speaking, and then inquired of him why each captive was
short of an ear. The attention of the Culhuas being riveted to
this extraordinary circumstance, the Tenochcas opened their
pouches and displayed the missing ears, proving beyond cavil
the measure of their prowess. Clearly the war-sacrifice cult had
reached the Valley by this time, for the emphasis set on thdtak-
ing of prisoners indicates that this was one of the chief purposes
of war.)Furthermoreadrawing shows the later sacrifice of the
prisoners, a cult practice the accomplishment of which was to
I. Weet-zeel'-weetl. 2. Tee-za-pan'. 3. Cosh-cosh.

Ioo Aztecs of Mexico
make the Aztecs dreaded by other tribes throughout the length
and breadth of Mexico.
So great had the prestige of the Tenochcas become that they
went to their lord, Coxcox, and asked for his daughter as a
wife for their chief so that they might found a dynasty. Cox-
cox granted their request, and the Tenochcas were so overcome
with gratitude that they sacrificed the luckless girl and draped
her skin on a priest to impersonate a Nature-goddess, Toci.
Then, with something less than tact, they invited the father to
the ceremony. He, expecting a marriage celebration, was
utterly horrified, and summoned his warriors to exterminate
the TenQccas, who forthwith fled to the lake, rejoining their
brethren already there.
S There wer{ two communities on the islands at the middle
\ of the fourteenth century: Tenachtitlan, which seems to have
become an entity in 132 and Tlaltelolco,1 which was
founded about the same time.)They were both havens for mal-
contents from the mainland, and about the middle of the cen-
tury each was large enough to petition the mainland tribes for a
chief to found a dynasty. Tlaltelolco received a leader from
the Tepanecs, and the Tenochcas again induced Culhuacan to
provide them with a chief, Acamapichtli.2 The accounts vary
as to whether or not he arrived as a lad accompanied by his
mother. The Annals of Cuauhtitlan mention that at this time
th Tenchra wre erecting honePs of trone, an indication
that a community had to reach a definite stage of develop-
ment before enjoying the prestige of an important lineage
In the time of Acamapichtli the Tenochcas were tributaries
and allies of the Tepanec and fought successfully against Tena-
yuca and Culhuacan.Yet-their-file-ofoperations was minute,
and a morning s automobile ride will enable the curious to see
the whole scene of Tenochcan history. Huitzilhuitl II suc-
ceeded Acamapichtli at his death, and prudently ensured the
i. Tlal-tel-ol'-co. 2. Ah-cam-a-peech'-tli.

The Aztec Period o10
future of the nascent state by marrying the daughter of Tezo-
zomoc. He was chief during the final struggle between the two
great lake-powers, the Tepanecs and the Texcocans, a war
which ended in the death of the Texcocan chief, Ixtlilxochitl,
and the dispersal of his fiefs.
Chimalpopoca succeeded his half-brother Huitzilhuitl,
and his reign was fraught with disaster. Tezozomoc died, and
his son Maxtla succeeded him at tie cost of murdering a
brother. Maxtla was frankly out for power, and kept the city-
states of the valley in a ferment of intrigue and oppression.
Finally he murdered Chimalpopoca, and also the chief of the
neighboring town of Tlaltelolco, adding insult to injury, ac-
cording to Indian thinking, by stepping up the tribute pay-
ments as well.
The people of Tenochtitlan were seething with indignation,
and the small mainland town of Tlacopan (Tacuba) was sym-
pathetic to the oppressed.\Nezahualcoyotl,2 the legitimate suc-
cessor to the chieftainship of Texcoco, had taken to the hills
after the defeat of his nation and was stirring up opposition to
the enemy. .ke induced the Tenochcas under their new chief
Itzcoatld to attack Azcapotzalco through the back door of
Tlacopan, while he rallied the Texcocans and their tributaries
to assault the enemy with columns coming both by canoe and
overland around the lakes. After a long war of several weeks
the allies were successful. jSec Plate 63.)
Nezahualcoyotl doubt ess intended that his State should re-
gain its position as the dominant Power in the northern lake
country. But he did not realize that when he formed the triple
alliance for mutual defence and offensive profit he laid the
foundation for a rival State which would surpass Texcoco.
The Tenochcas and the Texcocans were each to receive two
sharesoTall loot, the TTacopans one, but the division was prob-
ably liberally interpreted by whichever chanced to be the
strongest of the three allies. The Tenochcas gained land on the
I. Chee-mal-po-po'ca. 2. Ne-za-wal-coy'-otl. 3. Eetz'-co-atl.


Suggested Correlation of Pottery

0 co Styles withTribalGroups

Aztec x x (x)* x x (x)* (x)* (x)* (x)* x x Regulation Aztec of Tenochtitlan P
Xochimilca x x x x x x x x x (2)
Tepaneca x x x x x x x x x x (x)* Tenayuca II (?) q
Acolhua x [x]t x (x)* (x)* Mazapan -
Culhua x x x x x (x)* Culhuacan (like Aztec) *
Cuitlahuaca x xt x x (?)
Chalca x x x x x x x x x ()* Some styles resemble Cholula wares
Tauica x x x Gualupita III
Tlaxcalteca [x x x x x So styles resemble Cholula wares

Cholulteca x -- -- ---- -Cholula wares
Huexotzinca x x x x [ x Correlaio of Poery
SaQ U -P Styles with Tribal Groups

Azteclatz x x ()* x x (x)* )*)* )* Regulation Aztec ofTnohtitlan
Xohiminalca x x x x x x (?)
Tepaneca x x x x x x x x (x)*- TenayucaII(?)1

Achuauhq x (x) (x) Mazapan
XClhua x x x x x -(x)*- Cuhuacan(like ec)
Cuitlahuaca x x' x x- (?)
Chalca x x x x x x x x x (x)* Some styles resemble Cholula wares"
Tiahuica------- x x x -GualupitaIII'
Tiaxcalteca [x]t x x x x (x)* Sonie styles resemble Cholula wares
Cholulteca x' x ------ ---------- -- CholulawaresY
Huexotzinca x x x x [xlt x x (?)
Matlatzinca x x x x Matlatzinca'
Malinaica x x x ---------- --(?)
Quauhquechollan- ------- ----------x -x (?)

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Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs